Thursday, October 05, 2017

The true situation

- In the last regional elections, pro-secession parties in Catalonia decided to unite around a single issue - independence. They not only failed to obtain a majority of votes, but also lost votes in relation to previous elections. Surveys, including those paid by the separatists, show that support for independence is a minority and declining.

- Catalonia is not "oppressed". It is one of the most prosperous regions of Spain and its citizens enjoy a high standard of living and one of the highest degrees of self-government in any region of Europe.

- The party traditionally headed by the regional government of Catalonia has used over the last 30 years public money to promote a separatist agenda through education and local media and has been illegally funded with a corrupt scheme in which contractors had to pay bribes of at least 3% for any public work they made bids for.

- The region of Catalonia has never existed as an independent political entity and was part or the Kingdom of Aragon, which merged dynamically with the Kingdom of Castile in 1492 to create the Spain we know today. There is no "union", as in the UK. Catalonia is to Spain what Rousillon is to France or Cornwall is to England.

- Spain is a parliamentary democracy, with a constitution that can be amended. A vote on territorial secession would require such amendment and the support of a qualified majority of Spaniards.

- No country or international organisation (with the exception of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela) has supported this movement.

So why the fuss? As the economy improves and support for independence diminishes, the separatists fear "losing the train" and, breaking with Spanish and regional laws, have embarked on a campaign to present the central government as "evil" for not allowing a regional referendum that does not comply with the constitution (widely approved throughout Spain, including Catalonia). This noise also hides regional corruption scandals and establishes separatists as victims of the upcoming general elections.

The secessionists claim to have won the vote but did they?

The referendum was approved by the Catalan parliament in a session on 6 September 2017 along with a law which states that independence would be binding with a simple majority, without requiring a minimum turnout.

The referendum question, which voters answered with "Yes" or "No", was "Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?". The "Yes" side won, with 2,020,144 (91.96%) voting for independence and 176,565 (8.04%) voting against, on a turnout of 42.58%.

It is widely believed that many voters who did not support Catalan independence did not turn out to what was in fact and illegal referendum. It is also said that the organisation of the ballot was so poor, it was possible that many voted twice or more times.

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