As people in Scotland gaze politically ever more closely at their own navels, they may have missed the fact that Catalonia has a general election on Sunday. Not so the SNP who, according to The Herald, have called on Spain to allow a Scottish-style independence referendum in Catalonia.
I can’t find a press release on the SNP web site confirming any formal position on the subject. Perhaps they’ve been wise enough to avoid the written word this time in case it’s used as evidence against them in future. After all they get mightily hacked off at ‘interference’ when foreign politicians express a view that Scotland is better off in the United Kingdom. But I see MEP Alan Smyth and MP Natalie McGarry have broken cover to speak in support and given the party’s famed discipline of their elected representatives I assume there’s something to the story.
It’s not surprising is it? We all seek our friends where we can and separatist movements everywhere find mostly spurious reasons to be enthusiastic about each others’ right to self-determination, free-will, sovereignty etc etc. The truth of course is that few Scots would otherwise think of Catalonia except as a vaguely-heard of part of Spain for a beach holiday and a long weekend in Barcelona.
The Spanish constitutional court has ruled that an independence referendum is illegal. That’s why there was an ‘informal referendum’ in November 2014 that produced an impressive 80.8% majority in favour of independence. Hang on. I’ll start that again. The Catalan authorities never produced a formal statement of turnout, but media estimates ranged from 37% to 41.6%. So that’s a maximum of 33.6% could be bothered to (a) turn out and (b) vote for separation Is this sounding familiar, if an even less impressive endorsement of separation than the Scottish referendum? How about some more similarities?
(My IT skills don’t run to inserting URLs into graphics so the references here are listed at the end of this post)
This is only a random sample of cullings from recent media reports. No doubt Catalan separatistas just like their Scottish equivalents would put a different spin on the facts. The word ‘scaremongering’ would probably be involved. I might plump for ‘eerily similar.’ Same problems, same threats to the people of Catalonia as to the people of Scotland.
A final thought, one that is more immediately applicable to Spain. Both Scottish and Catalan nationalists profess to despise the larger states their countries are part of. But it is only because the UK and Spain are both decent modern liberal democracies that the people who want to break them up have the freedom to agitate for that. In the modern era, Scottish nationalists have always had that right. Only a few decades ago, Catalans attempting the same enterprise would have been brutally suppressed by a fascist dictatorship. There’s some sort of irony in that.
PS A cautionary note is needed because the political situation in Catalonia/Spain is much more complex than Scotland/the UK. So while this Sunday’s election is not and cannot legally be a referendum the separatist leaders certainly intend it to be a proxy for independence.
PPS I have been flippant about Catalonia’s 2014 referendum before so if this is all too serious for you tune up your vocal chords and head off here.
Diagram URLs (working as of 24 September 2015)