Don’t Exaggerate Russian Meddling in the Catalan Independence Crisis

Barcelona Spain
Night falls on Barcelona’s Plaça de Catalunya, Spain, September 11 (Sergio Marchi)

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 “Don’t Exaggerate Russian Meddling in the Catalan Independence Crisis”

Catalans Vote for Independence in Controversial Referendum

Sign demanding a vote for Catalan independence in Girona, Spain, September 22, 2014
Sign demanding a vote for Catalan independence in Girona, Spain, September 22, 2014 (Keith Roper)
  • 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 “Catalans Vote for Independence in Controversial Referendum”

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 “A Failure of Leadership in Spain”

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 “Catalonia Unlikely to Declare Independence After Referendum”

Putting Catalan Police Under Spanish Command Is a Bad Idea

Carles Puigdemont Mariano Rajoy
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont listens to Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy making a speech in Barcelona, August 18 (La Moncloa)

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 “Putting Catalan Police Under Spanish Command Is a Bad Idea”

Catalan Referendum Animates Flemish, Leaves Dutch Cold

View of Antwerp, Belgium, March 28, 2014
View of Antwerp, Belgium, March 28, 2014 (Visit Flanders)

The Dutch aren’t sure what to make of Catalonia’s independence bid. Only in the last few days have their news media started paying attention to what’s happening in the region.

Flemish media are more interested. Maybe because they have pragmatically managed their differences with the French-speaking Walloons for decades and are wondering why the Catalans and Spanish can’t do the same? Read more “Catalan Referendum Animates Flemish, Leaves Dutch Cold”

Spanish Raids, Arrests Cross “Red Line”: Puigdemont

Catalan leaders Oriol Junqueras and Carles Puigdemont, deliver a news conference in Barcelona, Spain, March 1
Catalan leaders Oriol Junqueras and Carles Puigdemont, deliver a news conference in Barcelona, Spain, March 1 (Generalitat de Catalunya/Rubén Moreno)

Spain has “crossed a red line,” Catalan president Carles Puigdemont said after gendarmerie raided offices of his regional government in Barcelona and arrested a dozen civil servants.

“On October 1, we are called to defend democracy from a repressive and intimidating regime,” Puigdemont told Catalans in a televised speech.

He argued that the actions of the Spanish state, which considers a planned independence vote illegal, are “totalitarian” and amount to the suspension of Catalan home rule. Read more “Spanish Raids, Arrests Cross “Red Line”: Puigdemont”

Partisan Divide in German Views on Catalan Referendum

A bird sits on top of one of the spires of the German Reichstag building in Berlin, December 31, 2005
A bird sits on top of one of the spires of the German Reichstag building in Berlin, December 31, 2005 (Max Braun)

German views on Catalonia’s independence bid break down along partisan lines. Left-wing commentators sympathize with Catalan pleas for self-determination and blame Spain for the impasse. Conservatives focus on the illegality of the planned October 1 vote. Read more “Partisan Divide in German Views on Catalan Referendum”