Catalonia to Announce Independence

Throughout the world there are all sorts of disputes about land control and independence claims.  Some are in areas of huge conflicts like the Kurds in Northern Iraq and others lie in the heart of a democratic Europe.  However different the geographical and political backdrop there is one thing in common with all these disputes – the huge level of passion that they can provoke.

The Spanish response to the Catalonia referendum has been catastrophic and almost certainly made the calls for independence stronger.    The King has now stood up to defend his government and to criticize the leaders of Catalonia which is unlikely to defuse the situation.  Of course it’s easy to forget that although Spain is a democratic European nation, that democracy is relatively young barely fourty years.  The threat to democracy in Spain is very real especially as now it seems that Catalonia will soon announce it’s own independence completely outside the Spanish rule of law.  Yesterday over 300,00 people took to the streets of Barcelona and the city was brought to a standstill.

The Spanish police who’s heavy handed tactics have escalated the crisis are being portrayed as ‘occupying forces’ even the world famous Barcelona football team have refused to train as a sign of protest.  It’s not a scene you expect to see in  European nation – women being dragged out of polling stations by the national police.   Further scenes of batons and rubber bullets being used against those very same voters were more reminiscent of some South American dictatorship rather than a member of the European Union.

It is reported that over 900 people have been injured as the police attempted to stop people using the ballot stations, a figure that will cause controversy on it’s own.  These pictures have been broadcast across the world, I watched as people in a UK bar used a VPN to access the BBC and watch UK TV online in Spain with the same pictures.

The case for independence hasn’t even yet been made completely and although 90% of those who voted backed leaving Spain – the turnout was well under 50%.  Is it a mandate to pull out of Spain?  The numbers have probably risen now because of the official response, the Catalan leaders will inevitably spin the violence behind their cause.

There are talks of suspending the Catalonia Government as an interim measure to the crisis, yet it’s hard to see that solving anything.   The King has called for the return of constitutional order, however achieving that within the chaos of Catalonia now looks even more difficult than it did a week ago.

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