Don’t Exaggerate Russian Meddling in the Catalan Independence Crisis

View of the Palau Nacional in Barcelona, Spain, March 17, 2011
View of the Palau Nacional in Barcelona, Spain, March 17, 2011 (Mark Turner)

Spanish media exaggerate Russia’s role in the Catalan independence crisis.

Russian state media, like RT and Sputnik, and Russia-friendly trolls, like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, have predictably sought to exploit the crisis in a major European Union and NATO country, for three reasons:

  1. To encouraging Catalan separatism.
  2. To provoking an overreaction from the Spanish right.
  3. To legitimizing the self-determination referendum it organized in the Crimea in 2014.

But there is little evidence Russian propaganda has changed anyone’s mind. Read more

Catalans Vote for Independence in Controversial Referendum

Catalans wait in line in Barcelona to vote in a referendum about independence from Spain, October 1
Catalans wait in line in Barcelona to vote in a referendum about independence from Spain, October 1 (HazteOir)
  • Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy maintains “no self-determination referendum” was held in Catalonia on Sunday, although millions voted.
  • Regional president Carles Puigdemont claims the region has “won the right to be an independent state”.
  • Hundreds of Catalans were injured in altercations with Spanish riot police. Read more

A Failure of Leadership in Spain

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy arrives at parliament in Madrid, October 29, 2016
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy arrives at parliament in Madrid, October 29, 2016 (La Moncloa)

The unstoppable force of Catalan separatism is about to meet the unmovable object that is Mariano Rajoy.

The Spanish prime minister and conservative party leader has vowed to prevent an independence referendum in the northeastern region at all costs. The Catalans are determined to vote anyway.

Neither side will be able to claim victory on Monday.

Rajoy may succeed in blocking the vote, but his intransigence has already convinced moderate Catalans there isn’t a future for them in Spain. The separatists may manage to organize a referendum, but it will be so marred by illegality and irregularity that the outcome cannot possibly be considered a mandate to break away. Read more

British Struggle to Understand Spain’s Reaction to Catalan Referendum

View of the Thames in London, England at dawn
View of the Thames in London, England at dawn (Uncoated)

The British struggle to understand why, if they could manage two referendums in three years, Spain is so desperate to prevent the Catalans from voting on Sunday. Read more

Catalonia Unlikely to Declare Independence After Referendum

The palace of the Catalan regional government in Barcelona, Spain, September 26, 2012
The palace of the Catalan regional government in Barcelona, Spain, September 26, 2012 (Wikimedia Commons/Andriy Sadivskyy)

Catalonia is unlikely to declare its independence from Spain even if a majority votes to break away on Sunday.

The law that made the referendum possible — and which has been suspended by Spain’s Constitutional Court — calls for a declaration of independence within two days of a “yes” vote.

But Carles Puigdemont, the regional president and separatist leader, has told French television he wants to open up a transitional period of talks after the plebiscite. Read more

Putting Catalan Police Under Spanish Command Is a Bad Idea

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont inaugurates a memorial at the headquarters of the Mossos d'Esquadra, the regional police force, in Sabadell, Spain, October 14, 2016
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont inaugurates a memorial at the headquarters of the Mossos d’Esquadra, the regional police force, in Sabadell, Spain, October 14, 2016 (Generalitat de Catalunya/Jordi Bedmar)

Spain’s latest attempt to prevent the Catalans from voting on independence next week risks making the situation in the region more dangerous.

Prosecutors have ordered the 17,000-strong Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan police force, to report directly to the Interior Ministry in Madrid as opposed to Catalan authorities in Barcelona.

Spanish officials had accused the Mossos (troopers) of not doing enough to disrupt preparations for the October 1 vote.

Spain claims it is protecting public safety, but its power grab could have the opposite effect. Read more

Mixed Views from France on Catalan Referendum

The Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, November 11, 2015
The Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, November 11, 2015 (Jean-Maël Cordier)

French coverage of the Catalan independence referendum has something of the left-right split we saw in Germany, but most of the media are united in calling on Catalan and Spanish leaders to meet each other in the middle. Read more