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Subject: Catalonia's Separatist Catatonia
SYSOP    11/27/2012 10:32:31 PM
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Clydwich    The EU curse   11/28/2012 3:55:02 PM
What is happening in Catalonia is also happening in several other countries in the EU, at least according to me. Because we now have a supernational government, the ties that bind us with the nation become looser. And the economic ties sometimes change direction, because of EU trade streams that are different from the previous, more national ones. Bretagne, Vlaanderen, Wallonie, Friesland, Lombardy, Bavaria, Wales, Scotland, Skane, they all have more or less developed plans for, or intentions of independence from, or looser ties with, the parent nation.
In a (sociological I believe) study that I read about, the researchers found out that on the whole people are most comfortable with about 3 levels of government above them. More than that is seen as too bureaucratic, and no longer representative. With the EU now above the national government, there is perhaps an unconscious desire to get rid of one of those layers.. (or more of them. Some regions\cities\provinces have at least five....).
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von Junzt       11/30/2012 12:26:52 PM
Very superficial and misguided article showing a very shallow knowledge and understanding of Spain's political history.
Catalonia's more extreme nationalists swear their region has been "occupied" by various Madrid-based governments for four to five centuries.
 That's like listening to a member of Ku Klux Klan swearing that the Confederate States of America have been "occupied" by the Federal government of Washington since 1865.
However, Spain's national government -- located in dreaded Madrid -- says secession is unconstitutional. It opposes Catalan secession. 
Catalan seccesionist rethoric makes it sound Madrid is Mordor. Secession IS unconstitutional, because the Constitution says so.Article 2 says

"The Constitution is founded in the indissoluble unity of the spanish Nation, common and indivisible fatherland of all Spaniards..." while also granting autonomy to the regions.
In Catalonia, however, the common desire fractures democratically, because "occupying" Spain is a democracy.
Spain doesn't occupy Catalonia, because Catalonia is a Spanish region. You cannot "occupy" your own country. And Spain is a flawed democracy, not a failed state, but closer to Mexico, or more appropiately, to the former Communist countries of Eastern Europe than a democracy longtime established like Britain or the US. Ironically the rest of Spain is more democratic and free than the de facto one-party separatist regimes established in Basque Country and Catalonia.
Spain's government had ended the Franco dictatorship's ludicrous anti-Catalan restrictions, but Convergence and Union demanded more autonomy.
What restrictions? The Basque country and Catalonia were the most favored regions under Franco's regime, a pragmatic decision of concentrating economic growth and development in the already industrialized regions, at the expense of the rest of Spain.
The separatist Convergence and Union party should be named Divergence and Division, because they have behaved like spoiled brats, extorting the central government. More autonomy means simply more power and money for the local oligarchy, or rather cleptocracy of  politicos in order to stablish a network of clients and captive voters to perpetuate themselves in power.
Readers probably don't know about Spain, but they will be familiar with the way that following the breakup of Soviet Union, former Communist party bosses became the rulers of the newly created republics by embracing local nationalism.
 James F. Dunnigan and I chose to devote a chapter to Catalonia as "an example of unresolved ethnic and historical rivalries" that simmered beneath the Cold War and still afflicted many European states.
Every case is different. Catalonia, or the Basque country for that matter, is not Northern Ireland, nor Kosovo, nor the Ukraine nor unlike anywhere else in Europe. Americans try to simplify and put tags on very complex geopolitical situations, of wich there are not two alike.  There are no ethnic or historical rivalries, just power hungry and greedy politicos maintaining a fiction for delusional people in order to make a good living out of politics.
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von Junzt       11/30/2012 12:27:25 PM
(part 2)
 I read an article in which a Madrid-despising Catalan nationalist damned modern Spain as a relic empire forged by Castile and Aragon.
I deplore your taste in lectures. Perhaps if you have bothered to check the other version you would realize how ludicrous that sounds. Modern Spain was created by the merger ofthe Kingdom of  Castile and the Crown of Aragon, one of its component parts being Catalonia, or to be precise, the county of Barcelona. Catalonia never existed as a kingdom, much less a nation state. The various kingdoms that formed Spain have been inextricably intertwined for five centuries of common history. Is noteworthy that there's no secessionist feeling in Aragon, not even in Valencia and the Balearic Islands, wich speak Catalan dialects (or own related languages, depending on who you ask), but feel part of a common Spanish national identity and want nothing to do with the nationalist fantasies of Catalan separatists, wich are not even hegemonical. Most people in Catalonia feel as Spanish as they are Catalan.
Recognizing Catalan linguistic and historical uniqueness was a reasonable request.
I, and the majority of Spaniards, are fed up with this constant "I am special" rethoric. So what if Catalonia is different? Galicia, in the northwest corner of Spain, has also an unique history and its own language closely related to Portuguese. In fact Galicia would make much more sense united to Portugal, wich is a spinoff of it, than being part of Spain. Despite that, Galicians have never been separatist troublemakers like some Basques and Catalans, and is as Spanish as Bavaria is German.
There's nothing reasonable in their requests. The constitution of 1978 was a compromise, and like all compromises, unsatisfactory. In order to prevent another round of internal strife and civil war, some concessions were made to the Basque and Catalan separatists, hoping that this would solve finally the historical trouble with those regions and would cement the loyalty to the rest of Spain. As history tells us, appeasament never works, the separatists have never played fair and their political history throughout all this time has been one of constant disloyalty. Their cynicism is evident in the way the Basque separatists rejected the deal offered by the constitution voting against them, but have no qualms on taking advantage of the generous self government provided by the Constitution. The weakening of the central authority in Spain and the devolution of power to the 17 autonomus regions, with it's attendant control over government of Spain has resulted in the monstruous hypertrofia of state bureaucracy and one of the main causes of Spain's current economic woes. We came from the dictatorship of Franco, to a corrupt oligarchy of 17 robber barons, plus the central government, with the trappings of democracy.
Anyway, just to accomodate some malcontents, the Constitution of 1978 was reasonable in granting self rule and official status to regional languages, while at the same time clearly stating the equality of all Spaniards and that the differences between regions could never constitute economic or social privileges. That part has been systematically infringed by the separatist governments. Speaking a different language should never entitle you to special rights or privileges.
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von Junzt       11/30/2012 12:28:12 PM
The Spanish civil war devastated Catalonia
No more no less than the rest of Spain. It was a civil war that pitted Catalans against other Catalans, like the entire country. Other than the fighting at the river Ebro,on agricultural areas, and modest (by WWII standards) air raids on Barcelona, Catalonia was not the site of combats and was quickly occupied almost without fighting in early 1939, Catalonia suffered more at the hands of the Reds, wich controlled the entire region from the start of the war, than under Franco's nationalists.
 union with Spain was preferable to renewed mass bloodletting.
This is nonsense. After Franco's death, in the transition to democracy all political forces agreed on a peaceful compromise to make a democratic state in line with those of Western Europe. What was under consideration was the political regime of a united Spain. Neither the Catalans nor the Basques nor anyone else was voting on a "union" with Spain.
There was no chance of bloodletting simply due to the profound economic, social and demographic changes brought about by forty years of peace under Franco's regime. Spain in 1975 was an entirely different country from that of 1936. Even if some faction wanted to use violence, they would not have any following. The middle classes that emerged due to the prosperity created by Franco rule, did not want anything to do with revolutions and violence. Only in the Basque country some fanatics of the ETA gang had enough of a marginal popular support to maintain a terrorist campaign for decades that has been finally all but extinguished.
 Nobody in Spain, much less in Catalonia, felt an urge for bloodletting. As for the politicos themselves, they were content with peacefully dividing up the spoils.
In 2012, the ground has shifted a bit. Madrid believes legitimate soft demands have been met
It's not a mythical malevolent entity known as "Madrid", you wrote that as if Madrid was the Kremlin in Moscow during the Soviet Union. It's the rest of the Spanish people that is incensed and fed up with decades of putting up with the demands of disloyal and spoiled brats in Catalonia, not to say anything of the connivance and complicity of Basque separatists with the ETA terrorists. The Catalan and Basque politicos have been given all they wanted by various governments and it has never been enough, only for them to become ever bolder in their demands and more vociferous in their complaints about how they are "oppressed" by Spain. There's a growing but minority feeling among the rest of Spaniards to support seccession, just to kick out the Catalan and the Basquess and not to have to put up with their whining anymore. Many Spaniards are so jaded that threats of secession don't elicit more response than "So what? Leave and close the door when you exit".
In addition, there's an overwhelming feeling that the state has to be pruned, and the monster of autonomousc governments spending has to be cut down in size. According to opinion polls, two thirds of Spaniards support strenghtening of central government and bringing the regions under tighter control for the sake of efficiency.
In a nutshell, the regions have been given too much power and the money with it, and the result is deemed a failure.
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von Junzt       11/30/2012 12:31:45 PM
One stripe of Catalan secessionist now claims Madrid's politicians plunder Catalan wealth to subsidize poorer regions.
All the claims of nationalists are of the same kind of reasoning you would find in Mein Kampf. In other words, ludicrous. An anybody can do the math and see how this is patently false.  Catalonia was once one of the richest regions of Spain, largely due to favourable trade policies by the central government in the past two centuries that enabled the industry to hold the rest of Spain as a captive market, and in the 20th century, to the large influx of workers from the  rest of Spain that migrated to Catalonia to work in those industries. After more than thirty years of self rule, the excessive government spending, bureaucracy and nationalistic oppression by the Catalan politicos, Catalonia is now bankrupt and begging the central government for a bailout paid for by the rest of the Spaniards, while other regions, like Madrid and the Balearic Islands, free of nationalistic rethoric and ruled by governments that have fostered the free market and enterprises have became more prosperous, overtaking Catalonia, wich is in decline, a decay accelerated by the secession scares that drives away foreign investors and large companies to other parts of Spain.
How will it play out? In 1985, it was clear that Catalonia would stick with Spain. Utilitarian concerns and common sense were antidotes for secessionist enchantment.
Seccesionist feeling has increased during the democracy, not diminished. A direct result of the central government giving out control of education to the regions, wich resulted in schools along with the local media, being used for the indoctrination and brainwashing of a entire generation in the hate of Spain. Most of the radical secessionist voters are not even native  Catalan, but children of working class inmigrants from other regions of Spain.
I speculated that there was a slight chance Catalans would ultimately press for "secession within union" -- the creation of a Catalan state militarily and economically tethered to Spain.
The problem is that the Catalan politicos don't want secession. They want to make Catalonia a privileged region within Spain, with all the advantages and none of the obligations. Ultimately is all over power and money, not nationalistic feelings.
This would be a federal Spain of a sort, but one arrived at by democratic means, by Catalans and the rest of Spanish electorate.
Spain is already a federal state de facto if not de iure, as one of the most decentralized nations in the world. The autonomy granted to Catalonia makes it already a state within the state. Going to a truly federal state would result in curtailing those powers and recentralizing the state.
Ultimately, the elections only showed that secession hasn't any chance of success, despite the radicalism of one sector of the populace wich is delusional. The Catalonian president has had his bluff being called, with a good chunk of his voters abandoning him.Catalonia is politically and economically bankrupt and there's no clear way of exiting the mess their leaders have gotten her into. Catalonia will have to go back into the fold, as eventually the government in Madrid, whatever its colour, will have to finally rein in the regions.
 With due respect, the writer doesn't know Spain, and probably neither he knows the language and typed this piece based on journalist reports, wich very often have a limited grasp of another country internal policies.
For more details into this, going into detph in some , you could read the post I wrote in a forum regarding this issue.
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