World events usually find me looking the wrong way. I have been fretting about North Korea when I should have been looking closer to home. It had not occurred to me that Catalonia was in such a hurry to gain independence. I thought it lacked the urgency that mañana conveys to me. Here’s my view on this tricky subject.
First, Spain lived for decades with armed attacks by ETA, fighting for Basque independence using the same tactics as our home-grown IRA. The Catalans have made their case peacefully and through their politicians. It is hard to resist the will of the people. Scotland has abided by the referendum result; the UK has abided by the Brexit referendum.
Secondly, a surprising aspect of the referendum in Catalonia was the wording:
“Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?”
This is two questions rolled into one. The Scottish question was much less demanding:
“Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?”
The Spanish government has been out-manoeuvred on two fronts. First it used force against the referendum and then the speed of Catalonia’s response has left it with tortilla on its face. The only way Madrid can start setting the agenda – an initiative it has lost – is by getting talking to Catalonia and offering more devolvement that might keep Catalonia, at least nominally, part of Spain.
So far as I’m aware the EU have not opined but if they were to quietly intimate to the Catalan regional government that they should seek greater powers from Madrid and not risk being left outside the EU a dangerous situation might be defused.