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Posts Tagged ‘spain

[LINK] “Catalonia, Scotland and the fluid concept of democracy”

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Open Democracy’s Daniel Coyne makes the compelling argument that the ability of the United Kingdom, unlike Spain, to accept the possibility of separatism is a strength.

If we return our focus to Catalonia, where on Sunday the pro-independence parties won a majority of seats in parliament. The exact levels of support for Catalan independence vary according to who you ask, with both sides in the debate naturally exaggerating their own support base. It is beyond doubt, however, that at least a sizeable minority of Catalan voters want full independence from Spain.

The Spanish government has of course secured its own democratic mandate to govern, having been chosen for office by the entire Spanish electorate. It also has its own perfectly sensible reasons for wanting Catalonia to remain part of Spain. Aside from patriotic notions of Spanish unity, it benefits Spain economically to have the relatively wealthy and productive Catalonia as part of the family.

Yet the national government in Madrid isn’t the sole legislative power in Spain, a highly de-centralised country divided into 17 autonomous communities, each with its own legislature.

Catalan elections consistently garner a lot of support for the independence cause. In refusing to allow an independence referendum to be held, the Spanish government chooses to utilise its own mandate as a democratically-elected body to overrule a subordinate yet equally legitimate body. A body that is simply seeking to serve the interests of the people that voted for it.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 3, 2015 at 3:54 am

[LINK] Two Bloomberg links in separatism in Catalonia

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Maria Tadeo’s Bloomberg article “Catalonia Isn’t Really About to Break Away From Spain, Is It?” looks at the trajectory of Catalonian politics.

is Catalonia really about to break away from Spain?

Probably not, no. But regional President Artur Mas will likely get enough support to begin the process of secession and push for more powers. His mainstream pro-independence alliance Junts pel Si is projected to fall just short of a majority, and a smaller separatist group, the CUP, will probably get the movement over the 68-seat threshold.

While this will most likely be enough for the separatists to push on with their fight, without a majority of votes they will struggle to present this as a clear democratic mandate. Polls show votes for independence coming in below the 50 percent threshold.

What is Junts pel Si?

An alliance of separatist groups. Mas’s party, Convergencia, agreed to join forces with its traditional separatist rival Esquerra Republicana for this election after their attempts at holding a non-binding referendum were blocked last year.

They’ve been joined by figures from across Catalan society such as Bayern Munich soccer coach Pep Guardiola. The aim is to set aside differences on economic and social issues to bring the separatist vote together under one banner and send a clear signal to officials in Madrid.

Mas and Esquerra leader Oriol Junqueras have drawn up a road map that involves setting up a tax agency, a central bank, an army and securing access to the euro before declaring independence in 18 months’ time if they can secure a majority of 68 seats in the 135 strong regional assembly.

Mark Gilbert’s “Scotland Proved You Can’t Scare Catalonia Away From Independence” emphasizes the extent to which Spain has to make a positive case for itself.

Rajoy said this week that the pro-independence politicians have no concrete plans as to how they’d run a government, and that “Catalans aren’t being told the real consequences of independence.” Rajoy even suggested that Catalans would lose their EU citizenship. The Spanish central bank, meanwhile, insisted that cut loose from the mothership, the region would be kicked out of the European Union, barred from using the euro and would leave its banks without the support of the European Central Bank. And Miguel Cardenal, the Spanish minister for sports, has threatened to kick Catalonian soccer team Barcelona out of the national league.

Catalonia produces about 18 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product, so the region wouldn’t exactly be a pauper. Nevertheless, investors have reacted to the prospect of an escalating fight over independence by driving up the yield premium they demand for lending to the region by buying its bonds rather than those of the central government; they now charge Catalonia 3.25 percent for five-year money, which is about 2.3 percentage points more than the government pays. That’s almost double what the surcharge was six months ago

The U.K.’s eventual change of tactics in persuading Scotland to remain part of the union should provide Spain with a better guide as to how to hang on to Catalonia. Devolution — the transfer of tax and spending powers to the regions — has softened (though not silenced) Scottish calls for independence, and seems to have averted a Welsh move down the secessionist path. Andreu Mas-Colell, a former Harvard University economics professor who is the Spanish region’s finance chief, said a year ago that he was open to the idea. “The more attractive is the offer on the table, the more likely that the vote will end up developing as in Britain,” he said in October.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 25, 2015 at 7:43 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO notes that John Tory wants private industry to fund a Toronto bid for the Olympics.
  • Centauri Dreams notes a paper suggesting that the effects of panspermia might be detectable, via the worlds seeded with life.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that the Earth’s geological composition is likely to be unique.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the technological advancement of Neanderthals in Spain.
  • Far Outliers notes the extent to which some opposition to the Anglo-American invasion of Europe in the Second World War was motivated by pan-European sentiment.
  • Geocurrents dislikes very bad maps of human development in Argentina.
  • Language Hat notes that Jabotinsky wanted Hebrew to be written in Latin script.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the Sad Puppies.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes a book talking about a specifically Orthodox Christian take on demography.
  • Spacing Toronto looks at the first ride at the CNE.
  • Torontoist notes a Toronto libraries “passport”.
  • Understanding Society notes M.I. Finley’s excellent book on the dynamics of the Roman Empire.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes a bizarre article published in a journal arguing that professors are equivalents to terrorists.
  • Why I Love Toronto recommends Dream in High Park.

[LINK] “Rich Gay Men Wanted: Spain’s Conservatives Make Tourist Appeal”

Bloomberg’s Maria Tadeo writes about how even Spanish conservatives are welcoming GLBT tourists, if for straightforward economic reasons.

Each August, Spain’s second city [of Barcelona] hosts Europe’s largest gay festival, attracting 71,000 visitors this year. During the two-week party Barcelona is plastered in posters featuring male models advertising parties aimed at gay visitors and stores carry signs with special offers, from sun-beds to free gym passes as the city is taken over by non-stop clubbing and pool parties.

With full-access tickets selling for 360 euros ($406), organizers say the events generates 150 million euros for the local economy. After eight years, the festival is expanding to Ibiza this year and the Canaries in 2016, catering to increasing demand for gay and lesbian events.

“This influx of visitors trickles down to local bars, gyms, even taxi drivers want to be involved,” said organizer Tes Cuadreny in an interview from his office in Barcelona. “They know this benefits everyone.”

Such initiatives have made Spain Europe’s market leader ahead of France which generates $6.6 billion of revenue, according to LGBT Capital, an investment firm based in the British Virgin Islands that focuses on gay-themed assets. The U.S. is the global leader with $21.5 billion of revenue.

In Madrid, even the conservative regional government is jumping on the bandwagon. Regional President Cristina Cifuentes flew the rainbow flag, symbolizing support for gay people, from institutional buildings for the first time following her election victory in May. In 2005, her colleagues from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party led 100,000 protesters in a march against legalizing gay marriage.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 2, 2015 at 7:48 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO shares photos of Yonge and Bloor from the 1960s.
  • Crooked Timber’s Corey Robin looks at trigger warnings in education.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that Barnard’s Star cannot support a massive planet in its orbit.
  • The Dragon’s Tales has more on the Ukrainian war.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog examines racism.
  • Far Outliers notes how the Ryukyus fared under American occupation.
  • A Fistful of Euros looks at the divergences of Spain and the United Kingdom interest rate-wise.
  • Geocurrents notes another small Kurdish-speaking sect.</li
  • Joe. My. God. notes an attempt to appeal the Irish marriage referendum.
  • The Map Room’s Jonathan Crowe notes a 2016 conference on fictional maps in Poland.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a microhistory of a block in New York City.
  • The Power and the Money examines Ukraine’s debt negotiations and argues that Russia is not as big a player in global oil markets as it might like.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog and Window on Eurasia note how ethnic Russians in Ukraine are continuing to identify as ethnic Ukrainians.
  • Understanding Society considers realism in social sciences.
  • Whatever’s John Scalzi talks about the Sad Puppies.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Tatarstan’s potential separatism and suggests some Russian Germans still want an autonomy.

[LINK] “Catalonia’s regional elections: scenarios for independence”

Open Democracy’s Fernando Betancor writes about different scenarios for Catalonian independence following upcoming regional elections. He makes a compelling case that things could get very bad indeed.

Nothing that has come before has mattered; it has been all talk. Up until and including the September 27, every action of every politician and of the Catalan government will be legal; no one is going to go off-script and give Madrid an excuse to intervene. But as the Romans used to say: “res, non verba” or “act, don’t talk”. Now everyone will have to declare themselves in positive action. As soon as the government is formed, it will execute what it perceives to be its electoral mandate: attain independence for Catalonia. It is likely to proceed in the following manner:

1. The Catalan government will formally request secession negotiations with the Spanish government and the Catalan representatives of this list in the national legislature will attempt to submit a bill to that affect;

2. Both efforts will be immediately and conclusively rebuffed;

3. The Catalan government will then draft (or has already drafted) a unilateral declaration of independence and will submit it to the regional legislature for a vote. If the Catalan Parlament can muster a quorum, they will undoubtedly hold an immediate vote on the measure, which will probably be passed by the same majority, or slightly greater, that the pro-independence parties enjoy in the chamber.

At this point, Mariano Rajoy will have the legal justification to intervene. The intervention include many actions, but at a minimum he will use his constitutional authority from Article 154 to declare a state of exception in Catalonia, suspend the civil institutions and attempt to reassert the national authority. And this is when the feces begin to strike the ventilation unit.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 1, 2015 at 1:33 am

[LINK] “Catalonia Attacks ‘Infinite Cynicism’ as Spain Curbs Powers”

Esteban Duarte of Bloomberg examines ongoing controversies in Spain over federalism. I can easily imagine ways this could spiral out of control.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has introduced rules that effectively revoke the powers of the Catalan government, the regional president’s right hand man said, before a vote that could fuel separatists’ bid to split from Spain.

Rajoy is forcing regional officials to get approval from the central government before paying commercial creditors, Francesc Homs, the head of the Catalan’s presidency department, said in an interview in Barcelona Wednesday. The national government in Madrid has also ruled that laws only come into force once they’ve been published in the Spanish Official Gazette, preventing regional leader Artur Mas from introducing legislation using the Catalan equivalent, Homs said.

Mas’s bid for independence has set him on a collision course with Rajoy who says that his plans are unconstitutional. Mas has framed the Sept. 27 regional election as a ballot on independence after Rajoy blocked his attempt to hold a referendum last November.

“When someone says we could get the region’s autonomy suspended, I tell them they’ve actually done it already,” Homs said. The central government is acting with “infinite cynicism,” he added.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 28, 2015 at 7:36 pm


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