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Explainer: What Do Catalonia's Elections Mean For Independence?

Catalan Separatist Parties Win Majority In Regional Parliament i
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November 26, 2012
Pro-separatist parties in Spain's Catalonia have won a legislative majority in regional elections. However, the ruling pro-independence Convergence and Union alliance has lost support. The party will now have to form a coalition to stay in power. (Reuters video)
WATCH: Catalonian separatist parties win a majority in the regional parliament
In Catalonia, the region of Spain that includes Barcelona, parties seeking independence have won a majority of seats in the regional parliament. RFE/RL correspondent Ron Synovitz spoke about the outcome with Ferran Requejo, a professor of political science at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.

RFE/RL: What do the regional election results in Catalonia mean in terms of a mandate for a referendum on independence?

Ferran Requejo: The referendum issue was the most important issue that was at stake in this election. The final results show that parties which backed this process to call for a referendum are a stable majority. They have 87 MPs out of 135. That means that 64.4 percent of the Catalan MPs support [the idea] that the government must call for a referendum for a potential Catalan independent state within Europe.

But the loser within this election has been the main Catalan political party, which is called Convergencia i Unio [Convergence and Union]. They have lost 12 seats -- from 62 to 50. And that means that [Catalonian President Artur Mas and] the leadership of this secessionist party has been weakened.

RFE/RL: Can the parties which favor an independence referendum put aside their differences on other issues long enough to form a government and call for an independence referendum?

Requejo: Now the most probable outcome is that the new government must be a coalition government of Convergencia i Unio as the first party plus a second party -- and they can choose between three parties. Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya [Republican Left of Catalonia], which is a leftist and independent party, is the most probable coalition [partner]. That is, a coalition between the first and second political parties. And they probably will maintain the objective to call for a referendum within the next four years.

RFE/RL: What are the legal issues in Spain that make it complicated for Catalonia's regional parliament to call a referendum on independence?

Requejo: To call for a referendum, a secessionist referendum, in Spain is illegal. It is against the constitutional framework. [But] there is a way according to the Spanish rules -- the Catalan parliament and the Catalan government must ask permission from the central power -- the president of the Spanish government [Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy] -- to call for this referendum. But probably the answer will be "No, this is illegal; this is impossible."

A second way is that the Catalan parliament approves a new law calling for a referendum. But if they do that, immediately the central government in Madrid will appeal to the Constitutional Court and the Constitutional Court will say, "No. This is illegal."

Then the way the Catalan government has is to go to the international framework -- mainly to the European Union but also to the United Nations and the Council of Europe -- in order to say, "Look, there is a clear demand of the Catalan population which is peaceful, which is democratic, which is pro-European. And under the Spanish state, the way is completely closed. What should we do to demand and to claim a transnational legal framework with international observers and to implement this referendum in the next four years with this legal international framework?"

RFE/RL: Do these legal complications make a referendum on independence less likely for Catalonia?

Requejo: It is less likely if we look at this issue from the Spanish side. The Spanish side says, "Look, the main political leader who supported this referendum has been weakened because he has lost 12 seats." But looking at the same issue, the Catalan side says: "Look, we have a clear majority to call for this referendum because 64 percent of our representatives are in favor of that. Only 30-something percent is against that." Here there is tension. Probably, this issue will be permanent and with more intensive tension in the years to come.
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Comment Sorting
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 26, 2012 19:47
Nice, very nice, guys! A great interview, because (a) by publishing it you FINALLY are adressing one of the issues that really are at the very heart of what matters to people in this "free" Europe (and the interview itself shows vividly how "free" to decide people in Europe actually are) and (b) also because this is already the SECOND article on secessionism in the EU - after your article on the coming SCOTTISH referendum on independence to be held in 2014.
But just to put this thing into a perspective a little bit. So, why is it that this political party - CiU - that has been ruling Catalunya for more than 20 years between 1980 and today decided to come up with this secession initiative exactly NOW?
This is becuase SPAIN - together with a number of other EU member states - is just going bankrupt, after having spent more than 25 years as an EU member, which is causing a long of PHYSICAL PAIN to its citizens and a lot of protests that are being brutally supressed by the riot police (well, maybe the next time the Spanish police shoots at people with rubber bullets in the subway of Madrid you will even publish an article on it with a few pictures?). And, as the interview is indicating, this process of slow painful bankruptcy is leading to the slow, but unstoppable process of political implosion of the Spanish state as well.
And the same processes are currently occurring in a number of other EU member states: UK (Scotland), Belgium (Flanders), Italy (South Tirol) among others.
And you know already: once one political project - the EU and its desintegrating nation states in this specific case - is going under, it will be the outside forces that will come as vultures in order to pick the best ones of the remaining European crown jewels. And probably this is the biggest problem of this "free" Europe - and not the fate of three girls who sang a song in a church and then landed in a labor camp.
Please, guys, continue informing us on these real ISSUES of this continent, the way you did in this interview :-).
In Response

by: Anonymous
November 27, 2012 01:14
And on that exact same topic...

Europe? Pfft. Amateurs. When it comes to collapsing, bankrupt, lawless, irredeemably corrupt empires devoid of children, culture, or hope, turn to the experts and look east. They've done it twice in the last ninety years, and third time's the charm.

Coming to RFERL in 2020: the latest news regarding Tatarstan's policy on the Alawite Republic of Latakia, plus Siberian peacekeepers in secessionist South Venezuela. And how either of these will affect the release of the twelfth Star Wars movie.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 27, 2012 17:55
:-) Well, Anonymous, I don't know about 2020, but today the latest OECD forecasts for the Spanish economy for 2013 and 2014 were published, and they do not look good at all:
(a) The Spanish economy will apparently continue shrinking in the coming year: the OECD predicts a fall of 1,4 % of the Spanish GDP in 2013;
(b) And correspondingly, the Spanish unemployment rate will continue soaring: the OECD predicts it will reach some 27 % next year, meaning that about 6.000.000 Spaniards will be out of job by the end of the next year (out of the population of some 40.000.000);
(c) And logically enough, the sovereign debt level of Spain - something that Frau Merkel is just going out of her way to reduce over the last 3 years :-) - is supposed to reach some 97,6% of the GDP the next year (3 years ago it was about 60 %).
So, what it all means is that the societal implosion of the EU and NATO member state Spain (just as that of Greece, Portugal and Italy) will inevitably continue for another next year at the very least.
Nice, isn't it? And the EU membership is, of course, a good thing for a country to have. Thank you, Europe, and thank you, Frau Merkel! Catalunya nunca te olvidará!

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 28, 2012 12:00
By the way, talking about EUROPE: Today's Austrian media is publishing the latest OECD economic development forecast for the years 2012-2014. Here are the rates of GDP growth that some selected EU and non-EU states are likely to achieve in the year 2012:

China: 7,5 %
India: 4,4 %
Russia: 3,4 %
USA: 2,2 %
Japan: 1,6 %
Germany: 0,9 %
Switzerland: 0,8 %
Austria: 0,6 %
France: 0,2 %
Spain: -1,3 %
Italy: - 2,2 %
Portugal: - 3,1 %
Greece: - 6,3 %

Aha, and now let's go back to the interesting, important and timely discussion on the Pussy Riot.
In Response

by: Anonymous
November 28, 2012 13:53
Impressive. If Ivan can sustain that rate of growth, he may catch up to the civilized world by the 22nd century. Of course he'll be speaking Chechen, English, and Mandarin by then, but let's not quibble.

Also, Russia sure seems hellbent on getting access to that broke, unpopular, gonna-crumble-any-minute-now EU.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 28, 2012 16:43
Well, Anonymous, sounds like you are new on this forum :-).
As we were mentioning in our discussion before you came (about a week ago maybe), another OECD study entitled "World Economy in 2060" actually forcasts that Russia's economy will become the Europe's biggest and the WORLD FIFTH biggest (after China, US, Japan and India) by the year 2020. I hope you will pardon me for not looking for this reference in the internet again (I quoted it the last week already), but I am sure you will manage it yourself, given your research skills :-)).
As far as the "civilized world" is concerned, Anonymous, OECD's forcast for its economic "development" or, better said, its economic implosion is somewhat less optimistic than yours. As the Austrian newspaper I referred to in my previous posting puts it: "In its forecast for the years 2013-14, OECD has for the first time presented a prediction based on the scenario when the European politicians FAIL to find a solution to the current Euro-crisis. Should this happen, the economy of the EURO-Zone will shrink by 2,2 % in 2013 and by 4,2 % in 2014. As a consequence, the global trade will contract by up to 6,7 %, which in turn will make such economies as China and the USA enter the period of LONG-LASTING RECESSION". End of the quote, Anonymous :-).
And to make your evening yet more enjoyable, may I recommend you watch the video posted under reference below: as it has become customary over the last years, Spanish medical personnel is protesting on the streets of Madrid against the genocidal economic policy imposed on Spain by Frau Merkel and the Germans.
Cuidate mucho, Anonymous, and don't get sick - who knows whether your health insurance will cover the medication costs :-).
Cheers from Vienna!
The Spanish medical VIDEO:
In Response

by: Anonymous
November 29, 2012 05:34
Hmm... I sense a trend here. Spain. Greece. Portugal. Russia. Let's add Swaziland and Paraguay for good measure. The trend being "global irrelevance." I'm sure Fritz is quaking in his lederhosen at the thought of Athens and Lisbon leaving the Eurozone. And a country several times bigger than Europe will actually have "the biggest economy in Europe" (hopefully)? They must be so proud.

Sorry to be blunt, son, but being Eurasia's fuel depot doesn't help Ivan as much as, say, kids and sobriety. Son, if you want to help stick it to the Yankees, waiting for Europe's southern and eastern runts to embrace Ivan is no way to go about it. Instead, travel a few hundred miles east of Wien, meet a nice girl, have some kids, and lose the booze. It might set a trend.

Also, skimming through your comments as you recommended, what is this bizarre sexual fetish over our debt to China? It's analogous to getting teased for speeding tickets by a kid who's never owned a car. Newsflash: of course Ivan has no debt. The last party naive enough to lend anything to Ivan was us during Lend/Lease, and our return-on-investment was seven decades of lectures on how they won the war singlehandedly. As for us, well, if you owe the bank a million dollars, the bank owns you. If you owe the bank fifteen trillion dollars, you and the bank are no longer distinct entities. That's us and our hardworking Chinese partners -- the perfect closed system, with us guarding the top and them the bottom, consigning Greeks, Russians, and most of the rest of Eurasia to the ranks of geopolitical overhead.

Son, you seem angry (as exemplified by your inconsistent USE of arbitrary all-capitals) and clearly don't like Yankees. Fair enough. Instead of trolling an obscure news site, learn Mandarin and become part of the solution. Just lose the Yankee-style emoticons like :) and use (^_^) instead so you don't look like a kid in Seattle. And yes, I arrived hoping to find an intelligent forum, but it's mostly just ethnic/religious supremacists trolling each other. I'll pass. You should too, son. Take care.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 29, 2012 10:42
:-))) Ok, I see that you did not like the OECD data to such an extent that you even manged to identify yourself: you are not an "Anonymous", but one of those primitive Beavuses and Buttheads living in one of the bankrupt US cloacas, such as Detroit. One of those Beavuses 40 % of whom are still trying to figure out where Canada is. One of those who have heard about having health insurance only on the radio or maybe read sometime about this luxury from a newspaper.
One of those Beavuses who invaded Iraq and Afghanistan just to have several thousand of themselves killed there for nothing - and to be kicked out of both countries a few years later.
One of those Beavuses who is learning Chinese currently - in order to beg for money in Beijing with more efficiency.
And finally, one of those Beavuses whose terrorist friends are currently being killed in hundreds on a daily basis by the forces of the legitimate Syrian goverment - with the help of Russia and Iran.
And then you say: "I arrived hoping to find an intelligent forum". Beavus, you will get out of here the same way you had to get out of Veitnam, Iraq or Afghanistan. No one invited you here and no one will miss you after you're gone. Neither here nor anywhere else in the world. Go back to where you came from and stay there without bothering others with your unnecessery presence. And if you do dare to bother - look first at those of your friends who went to Iraq and Afghanstan and never came back to all bankrupt US cloacas.
Buy, Beavus, and make sure I never hear ugly voice again.

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