Catalans declare independence from Spain https://t.co/CHn0UnjM0s
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) October 27, 2017
The Catalan regional parliament has voted to declare independence from Spain, while the Spanish parliament has approved direct rule over the region.
Catalan MPs easily approved the move amid an opposition boycott.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had told senators direct rule was needed to return “law, democracy and stability” to Catalonia.
The Catalan government said that of the 43% of potential voters who took part, 90% were in favour of independence. But Spain’s Constitutional Court had ruled the vote illegal.
A motion declaring independence was approved on Friday with 70 in favour, 10 against, and two abstentions in the 135-seat chamber.
The measure calls for the transfer of legal powers from Spain to an independent Catalonia.
But the Spanish Constitutional Court is likely to declare it illegal, while the US, UK, Germany and France all expressed support for Spanish unity.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU “doesn’t need any more cracks, more splits”.
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has called for supporters to “maintain the momentum” in a peaceful manner.
Crowds have been celebrating the declaration of independence and Spanish flags have been removed from some regional government buildings in Catalonia.
It does appear that everyone’s favorite promoter and funder of neo-nationalist independence movements, Russia, meddled in the election. Russia’s interests in an independent Catalonia isn’t just limited to whatever Snowden and Assange are up to.
Putin sees in the Catalonian referendum an opportunity to convince the European Union, NATO, and the UN that it is time to recognize that Crimea belongs to Russia and to let bygones be bygones. After all, business and political interests in Europe are getting restive. They contend that, after almost four years, it is time to return to “business as usual” with Russia.
The Russian narrative characterizes Catalonia as yet another unintended consequence of NATO’s 2008 recognition of Kosovo’s independence from Russian ally, Serbia. (No mention of Serbia’s ethnic cleansing of Kosovars preceding independence). Per Russia, Kosovo opened the Pandora’s Box of independence movements, of which Catalonia is but the latest example. In the growing list of self-determination movements – Kosovo, Kurdish Iraq, Scotland, Crimea, Quebec, and now Catalonia — why should Crimea and its new homeland, Russia, be the only ones singled out for sanctions? Says one insulted Russian commentator: The West “has no right to lecture Russia.” The West cannot punish those referendums whose outcome it dislikes and praise those it welcomes.Russia claims that the March 2014 Crimean referendum was no different from the other self-determination movements, including Catalonia. According to the Russian narrative, the Crimean vote was spontaneously initiated by patriotic Crimean legislators, alarmed by the takeover of Kiev by nationalist extremists and neo-Nazis. The Crimean referendum took place without incident and without the overt influence of Russian special forces. The “official” Crimean election results, as quoted widely in the Western press, showed a 97% vote in favor of annexation with a remarkable turnout of 83%. The Russian message: The balloting procedure may not have been perfect, but the election results are overwhelming; so why all the fuss?
The Russian narrative has been drummed for almost four years into audiences in Russia and abroad. Attention spans are limited, and few bother to drill into the true story of the Crimean annexation, which has been documented as follows:
Sentiment on the issue of secession has run fierce here for the past five years, but lately, suspected Russian mouthpieces Assange and Edward Snowden — as well as Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik — have been throwing fuel on the fire, tweeting out provocative messages by the hundreds over the past week; every time the government shuts down a voting app, Assange tweets a link to a new one.
But the Catalan situation is unprecedented, in part because of its support from outside the country. Assange and Snowden are widely suspected of fronting for Russia, which as part of its campaign to destabilize Western democracies has supported secessionist movements from Scotland to Texas. Barcelona and the surrounding resort towns along the Costa Brava are favorite vacation and second-home spots for wealthy Russians, including alleged Mafia heads reportedly linked to the Kremlin. Some of them are facing criminal charges by the national government — charges that might not survive a transition to a new, Russia-friendly Catalan national government. “The situation is confusing and highly combustible,” says one longtime resident who declined to be quoted by name, given the intensity of feeling on the issue.
Now we wait to see how this gets resolved, if it can be resolved. And if so, whether the resolution is peaceful.