Why the Catalonian Referendum Matters to Europe?
The realization of the referendum will mark the fate of representative democracy on the continent.
The Catalan Referendum is not only a Catalan problem or a Spanish problem, but a European issue whose result may crack democracy as we know it in western Europe.
The situation in Catalonia is a fight for self-determination, and the right to vote. Simply put, what happens in Catalonia will set a precedent for the type of democracy that we will see in Europe and most likely the entire Western world.
It will be a Europe where people get to keep their universal, civil and constitutional rights, or, on the other hand, a region where, as it is happening now in Catalonia, people will have to face serious repression by European governments.
It sounds cliché to say it, but the main reason why the Catalonia issue can’t be resolved is the reality established since the days of Francisco Franco, who turned Spanish institutions and politics into an intolerant structure. “A hard line has been followed,” laments Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, who perhaps is the only public figure to vehemently support Catalan self-determination. In this sense, the activist has been concerned with how long the repression will continue.
On the Catalan issue, the greatest problem is the central management of the Executive power in Spain, which is led by a corrupt political structure that is just as bad a the Worker’s Party in Brazil, for example. The world is a witness to Spain’s threats to Catalan independence and the right of the people to vote.
The Spanish apparatus has been working to stifle the Catalans’ desire to vote and decide for themselves.
Leaving aside what happens between now and October 1, in the end, what is important are the facts. That is to say, whether or not the referendum will be held, and as a result, how the Spanish security forces will treat the situation in one way or another.
Right now, the Spanish government and its police force are treating the situation in a way that makes pro-independence Catalonians look like criminals. Police has invaded private businesses and confiscated materials while jailing Catalan leaders who support the referendum.
The Spanish government has occupied Catalonia with enough police forces to fight a drug cartel, while Catalonians have protested peacefully on the streets, as they have always done.
According to what has been said, what is being carried out by the Government these days in Catalonia is a very serious repression by European standards, so the concern is to know how long this repression will continue.
In any case, what is important is that there will be a European response to the Catalan issue. The questions is when will it come, and what will it be like. Meanwhile, the danger of a continuous repression by the government of Madrid relies on the fact that more of this kind of repression could be extended to other places in Spain.
As of now, the Spanish government has carried out attacks against freedom of expression that have been concreted in the closure of web pages, in the arrests of the authors of those websites accusing them of sedition and in the orders to Vodafone and Orange to deny access to those web pages.
All previous examples of repression are typical of places where censorship is common, such as Turkey and China. Spain’s actions against free speech is contrary to international rights agreements signed by its government as a member of the EU.
These attempts at censorship have to be brought to light. They need to be exposed, not to help the Catalan cause, but to help Democracy and free speech. If such violations of free speech continue the EU must intercede in some way because it is the scope of its responsibility.
Whether one is in favor or against self-determination or not, the truth is that Catalonia is a country with a significant culture and the situation there has been handled in a terrible way by the central government.
Perhaps some kind of agreement could have been reached at the beginning if the Rajoy administration had been less worried about showing arrogance and more about finding common ground, sitting down to attempt to negotiate, but “Franco’s structural ghost, which still flies over Madrid and almost all Spanish institutions and politics, has led to what we see today.
This management of the Catalan issue is affecting the image of Spain abroad and many newspapers echo this fact. In general, the understanding is that Spain is choosing the worst way possible to solve the Catalan issue.
Compared to the Scottish referendum, for example, there was a lot of propaganda and a lot of dirty games, but the people of Scotland were able to vote and the British government did not exercise repression, which is precisely what the Rajoy administration is doing.