Spain prevents Catalan independence leaders from taking office

The elections to the Catalan Parliament were just over 3 weeks ago but rather than lead to any settled political outcome in Barcelona problems look set to continue. Pro-independence parties again won an overall majority of seats but will the Spanish establishment permit all of those deputies to take up their seats and fulfil their mandate? Not likely. The Spanish Supreme Court has ruled that the former Deputy First Minister Oriol Junqueras must remain physically in prison on remand and may not … Read more

Catalonia – “Propaganda thrives in a crisis.”

Guardian columnist Natalie Nougayrède is hoping for a Pedro Almodóvar inspired ending to the wild, dark comedy that characterises the current impasse between Catalonia and the rest of Spain.  From the Guardian article However, the 1 October referendum was hardly a model of sound, democratic expression. Only a minority of Catalans took part (turnout was 43%), and its organisation ran counter to Catalonia’s own legislation. The two laws that led to it were voted through without the two-thirds majority the Catalan charter (the Estatut) requires for … Read more

“One of the things the independence movement hates most is that left-leaning people are against them…”

With the separatist Catalan government claiming that 90%, of 43% of the electorate, voted for independence, and ahead of a week of further uncertainty for all of Spain, the BBC’s Patrick Jackson gives a voice to some young Catalan Spaniards – some of whose views may, or may not, sound familiar…  ANYhoo… Here’s a lengthy excerpt from the BBC report. “We feel Catalan and Spanish and I’m not going to allow independence supporters to take my culture away,” says David. … Read more

Spanish police attack peaceful protesters in Catalonia…

How should the Spanish government have handled the Catalan independence referendum? Option A: Do nothing. Let it go ahead and when the result is announced condemn it as meaningless and undemocratic. The world’s media would give it a passing tweet at most. Option B: Go heavy-handed. Send in police to smash up printing presses, seizing posters and ballots. Send hundreds of police to storm polling centres attacking and terrorising women and children. Attack peaceful protestors in the streets with their … Read more

Barcelona vs Madrid

The Spirit of Franco never really left the Spanish state. Sometimes it is hard to see from the outside world but in the run-up to the Catalan referendum the Spanish Government are clearly trampling over basic human rights in their efforts to prevent the referendum from even taking place. Yesterday some 100,000 pro-independence posters were seized by the State after raids in various printing shops. Today they came back for the printing equipment! In newsrooms armed police came with a warning to … Read more

Can the “Catalan Way” become a strategy for Nationalists in Northern Ireland?

A lot of eyes in Ireland and Britain will be focused on Catalonia in the upcoming weeks. The vote taking place on October 1st will be an acid test for the integrity of Spain and the aspirations of independence for a number of regions across the European Union. The referendum was first called for in June 2017 and was formally approved by the Catalan Parliament on the 6th of September. Almost immediately, the Spanish Constitutional Court claimed the referendum was … Read more

French President Francois Hollande :”The negotiations will be conducted with the United Kingdom, not with a part of the United Kingdom”

With the UK Parliament sovereign, and Sinn Féin’s calls for a border poll dismissed as an unwelcome distraction, quite where the “very special place” Martin McGuinness thinks Northern Ireland is in isn’t entirely clear.  Nor whom he thinks he can press that “case” with in his attempt to ignore the UK-wide referendum result.  He should remember, however, that neither he nor his party, alone, speak for the Northern Ireland Executive. He should also pay very close attention to the responses the Scottish First Minister is … Read more

Spanish Electorate give a collective thumbs down to their two major parties.

SPAIN VOTES: Spain went to the polls yesterday in their tightest ever general election. The incumbent Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy was seeking a second term after his Partido Popular party swept to power in 2011. However, after a four years of high unemployment and continuing cuts more anti establishment parties such as Podemos, have began to gain traction in Spanish society, making the outcome of yesterdays election very messy indeed.

Greek deal: This Is NOT a Coup

Whether the Syriza-led government of Greece survives its own domestic democratic pressures remains to be seen following the deal struck at the Eurozone summit yesterday – in the end the 28 EU leaders didn’t have to meet…  The Guardian live-blog on the Greek crisis notes one possible scenario Analysts at Eurasia Group suspect Greece could soon head towards a national unity government, if many government MPs refuse to back the bailout deal on Wednesday night. If Tsipras loses his majority and potentially even … Read more

Jean-Claude Juncker: “[Tsipras] must explain that some of the promises upon which he was elected will not be honoured…”

As Mick has noted, at the weekend the under-pressure new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras took undiplomatic aim at the governments of Spain and Portugal [But not Ireland! – Ed] in an attempt to explain the outcome of European negotiations to his Syriza party coalition. The European Commission has been quick to step in to act as a “mediator” after receiving complaints from the Spanish and Portuguese authorities, but not before those governments had responded in kind. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy hit back … Read more

“…the platform on which Syriza won the recent general election has been significantly reconstructed.”

What now for “the Syriza experiment“?  The Irish Times reports that the Eurogroup of finance ministers have deemed the Greek government’s list of proposed reforms to be “sufficiently comprehensive” for a four-month extension of the Greek bailout programme which was due to expire on Saturday. In an official statement released after today’s conference call between euro zone finance ministers, the euro group said that the proposal was “sufficiently comprehensive” to be a valid starting point for a successful conclusion of … Read more

“…complex issues cannot always be addressed via online petitions.”

Sinn Féin, and others, agitating on behalf of “the Syriza experiment” following the recent elections in Greece, has more to do with positioning to blame the current Irish Government for the likely outcome [added link] than any professed desire for a resolution in Ireland’s favour. But there are a few things to note about the rise of the various Eurosceptic and anti-establishment parties across Europe [Who “will ultimately chose financial and macroeconomic stability over revolution? – Ed].  Perhaps… Firstly, domestic democratic pressures … Read more

“Sunday’s election could be a significant day for Europe…”

The campaign may have resembled a “political circus”, but Sunday’s general election in Greece could see the leftist Syriza, led by former communist Alexis Tsipras, emerge as the leading party – but in search of a partner-in-government [We’ve been there before! – Ed].  Indeed.  Although, they could still achieve a majority… In the meantime, the Irish Times highlights a report from Standard & Poor, “European Sovereign Creditworthiness Might Diminish If Eurosceptics Take Power”.  From the Irish Times report In a report assessing the rise … Read more

Commemorating a pioneering humanitarian, five centuries on

Commenting on Roger Casement’s campaigning work on behalf of the indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon, the author Joseph Conrad said in a letter to the Scottish politician R B Cunninghame-Graham: ‘I have always thought that some particle of Las Casas’s soul had found refuge in [Casement’s] indefatigable body.‘ Casement himself, in his pre-1916 work in South America, makes no mention of Bartolomé de Las Casas in any letters or writings, but it seems hard to believe that he would … Read more

‘To the winds our sails: Irish writers translate Galician poetry’: Book Review

This 2010 anthology collects five poems each from ten Galician women. Irish poets translate four per poet from an English-language crib, with the remaining one rendered into Irish itself. The results reveal some of the revived enthusiasm and energy emanating from this northwestern corner of Iberia, with its alleged ancient ties to the Celtic lands, as the legendary homeland of the Irish themselves. How such expression cross over linguistic expanses, co-editor Mary O’Donnell observes, raise questions. ‘It remains one of … Read more

Spanish troops mass on Catalunya’s borders…

Well,perhaps not quite, although as El Economista reports: (The) Spanish Military Association (SMA) has warned Monday that those who cooperate or allow “fracture” of Spain should “respond with all the utmost rigor” in the courts in the field of military courts by the “serious charge high treason. (Google translate gives the gist) Meanwhile in the real world Artur knows what he’s doing methinks. The FT (subscription needed but it’s free to subscribe) chronicles the events of the last few weeks. … Read more

Euro crisis: “This time it’s really, really serious…”

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso is off to Greece for “a regular meeting” with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.  His first visit to Athens since June 2009.  Meanwhile, the rising cost of Spanish and Italian Government borrowing has prompted a declaration of intent from European Central Bank president Mario Draghi. “To the extent that the size of these sovereign premia hamper the functioning of the monetary policy transmission channel, they come within our mandate,” Mr Draghi said in a speech at the Global … Read more

Euro crisis: “It’s politics without policy choice…”

The pressure is definitely beginning to tell on the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso at the G20 summit in Mexico.   No news yet from Greece, and the markets are still betting against Spain.  He may, as he claims, have a “vision of where we need to go“, or he may, as Michael White says, be sticking his head in the sand.  In any case, at Crooked Timber Niamh Hardiman has been looking more closely at the end-game for the political trilemma. … Read more

Euro crisis: “These are empty, senseless phrases, an abuse of language”

In the Irish Times, Paddy Woodworth notes an all-too-familiar tale of political chutzpah in Europe [Nevermind closer to home! – Ed].  This time it’s the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, and his spin on that ‘magic bullet’.  From the Irish Times report The total reversal of his oft-stated conviction that no EU money was needed by the Spanish banks became the vindication of his strategic abilities. Flying in the face of well-documented alternative accounts of events, he insisted that it was … Read more

Euro crisis: “With that we buried the Maastricht Treaty, the legal basis for currency union”

A couple of interesting reports in the Irish Times with relevance to the ongoing euro crisis.  First, from Derek Scally in Berlin …Mr Asmussen, a member of the ECB governing council, said growth measures – agreed without reopening the fiscal treaty – could help drive European integration. “The benefits of a currency union are so outstanding that they should be stabilised by deepening, which means a fiscal union and banking union as well as a democratic legitimised political union,” said … Read more