So, what happens next then, eh?

The EU’s most senior official warned that “more cracks” were emerging in the bloc on Friday after the Catalan parliament declared independence from Spain, plunging the country into political and economic turmoil.

Madrid swiftly responded to the vote by dissolving the Catalan parliament and dismissing Carles Puigdemont as president of Catalonia and his entire government.

Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, announced that regional elections would be held in December and said the unprecedented act of imposing direct rule on the regional was needed to “recover normality”.

What if the indepentistas win those regional elections in 6 week’s time?

Yes, I’m fully aware that there isn’t 100% in favour of independence, possibly a plurality but probably not a majority.

However, it is true that most of the various European states are the result of variously conquering and voting in separate social and or political entities over the centuries. What should be done if a majority of one of these really does want to leave? Ireland, Slovakia, we all generally think it was right that they did leave. Most of us are OK with Scotland deciding for itself. USSR, Yugoslavia and so on – why shouldn’t Catalunia, the Basque Country, Brittany, Flanders, Lombardy and all the rest have the chance?

The necessity of the central nation state has rather faded in recent decades, no? So, why not?

Yes, yes, I agree, it must be a majority which want to go an so on but why shouldn’t they be allowed to?

27 comments on “So, what happens next then, eh?

  1. I’ve declared independence for the region immediately surrounding my house.

    I’ve started a campaign of civil disobedience by taking illegal drugs occasionally and fiddling my taxes. Thing is the campaign has been going for decades and the UK government hasn’t noticed yet.

    I shall persevere.

  2. Well, like Scotland and the UK, the Spanish state has to approve independence referendums. The Catalans were too impatient to get going to wait the 5 years or so that would have got them their permission, so tough.

    There’s a lot of European governments who have been looking askance at the “Committee of the Regions” for a long while.

  3. Exactly. For a classically liberal site lots of people hold conservative views.
    As free agents we should have the right to decide who we have loyalty to. The state (such as it is needed) should act so as to deserve that loyalty not the other way round.
    The idea that the world reached a perfect level of organisation sometime between 1945-2010 and must never change is palpable nonsense to all bar Big state Tories and Socialists

  4. Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, announced that regional elections would be held in December and said the unprecedented act of imposing direct rule on the regional was needed to “recover normality”.

    What happens if the next regional parliament votes for independence?

    Rajoy’s handling of it has been woeful and appears to have driven quite a few people in to the independence camp, or at least being more sympathetic towards it.

    That said, Puigdemont appears to be equally as incompetent by not having any vision of how it will work other than a bit of hand waving.

  5. If part of a state wants to secede, then it’s a matter of consent, according to the state’s constitution. End of.

    States that were recently peasant societies – like Spain and Ireland – tend not understand consent, holding instead to some mystic vision of the land and territorial integrity. Hence, Spain’s attitude to Gibraltar.

    More broadly, I tend to think that anything that increases the number of professional politicians is to be discouraged, whether it’s secession or devolution.

  6. IMHO if a properly organised and independently verified referendum found for leave, then Catalonia should be supported in leaving. It is clearly urgent that such a referendum be organised. The Spanish government has handled this woefully, and likely driven more to favour independence.
    Of course the EU through its regional proposals was encouraging this sort of thing for a long time.

  7. Of course the EU through its regional proposals was encouraging this sort of thing for a long time.

    By promoting it’s relationships with regions, the EU was building its influence and powerbase but stopping well short of fomenting secessionist tendencies. The EU is solidly behind Madrid over the Catalonia crisis.

    Closer to home, one of the SNP’s cornerstones has crumbled to dust since the idea that Scotland can be free of Westminster and embraced by Brussels has been well and truly scotched.

    Boo hoo the noo.

  8. “Of course the EU through its regional proposals was encouraging this sort of thing for a long time.”

    While I agree with the Bison that the EU has stopped short of promoting secessionism per se, it is true it has supported regional identity etc and even more true that it has made independence for Flanders, Catalonia, Corsica etc much less far-fetched by reducing the amount of work involved to transition from autonomous region to “independent” state.

    In many ways a hypothetical future, EU-member independent Catalonia would look like the existing autonomous Catalonia – no need to establish its own currency, much of its law kept in sync with neighbouring states through the rulings of the ECtHR and ECJ, international trade under EU rules, no physical border with Spaniards and Catalans (and Germans, French, Poles, whoever) free to cross back and forth…

    It would gain some control of fiscal policy (but be constrained within that by EU rules) and foreign policy (but being a small state would presumably largely follow in line with Euro-Atlanticism without expecting to be an influential voice in it). The rest of the state apparatus they pretty much have got used to running already, or (eg agriculture policy) is run from Brussels anyway.

    Much less intimidating or dramatic than building a completely independent state from scratch, particularly in an environment where secession involves a race to become economically and militarily viable before the mother country attempts to reabsorb you.

  9. “What happens if the next regional parliament votes for independence? ”
    To predict that you need to understand the Spanish character. Which is an amalgam of putting personal advantage first & systemic incompetence. Whatever, it won’t solve anything.

  10. Oh and we have another public holiday, next week. For where I am, that’s three in a month plus a week of half days for half the town because, feria. I should add bone idleness.

    Being that Catalans are not Spanish & don’t regard themselves as such, one can understand why they might prefer independence from this bunch of no-hopers.

  11. “..in an environment where secession involves a race to become economically and militarily viable before the mother country attempts to reabsorb you.”

    In this context, one must remember that the Spanish military has only fought one war in the last 200 years. Against itself. Which it lost.
    The one before that, it ran away.& hid.
    (I am of course excluding the Colombian War of Independence. Where they got trounced by a small bunch of British mercenaries. A Sunday league team playing a Premier club hardly counts, does it?)

  12. Question: What’s the difference between an EU of a small number of big countries and an EU of a large number of little countries?

    Answer: In the latter case all the power will be in the hands of the unelected European Commission.

  13. “Answer: In the latter case all the power will be in the hands of the unelected European Commission.”

    I do wonder about this. Currently, all the regional differences are kept in check by the national governments. Spain with Cataluna. UK with Jockistan etc. In an EU of small nations, they’d be fighting it out with each other. Be like trying to herd vasalined cats. And you could see some very strange alliances forming. The assumption, the gods in Brussels could play them all off against each other & keep the whip hand, might not hold.

  14. To the Left, poor regions gaining independence is self-determination and a good thing, but rich regions seeking independence is selfish neo-liberalism.

  15. For instance, look at the EU open door immigration policy. It only really holds because of the posturing of politicians at national level. At regional level it’s overwhelmingly unpopular because the effects of immigration are felt at regional level.

  16. “it must be a majority which want to go an so on but why shouldn’t they be allowed to?”

    Suppose that next time there’s a Scottish referendum the overall vote is for independence but that the vote in the Borders and Dumfries & Galloway is for remaining in the UK. Does that mean that those southern bits that are contiguous with England should be allowed to separate from the rest of Scotland and to remain in the UK? If so, then consider their neighbours. If East Lothian also voted against independence is it the allowed to stay in the UK?

    And if being contiguous with England is thought to be important what about islands that are sort-of-contiguous by virtue of the sea? Should Orkney and Shetland, say, be allowed to remain in the UK?

    In short, once you start the fragmentation game, where – if anywhere – are lines to be drawn?

  17. P.S. If memory serves, the only bits of Scotland with a clear majority for independence were two Irish-rich areas, Dundee and the Glasgow conurbation. Maybe we should have a Scottish referendum on just ejecting those two from Scotland?

  18. The EU wanted to create regions to serve to undermine national identity–like yoking parts of Northern France and Southern Britain into artificial entities with zero history and cohesion –ripe for micro bureaucratic tyranny as well as macro level.

    Regions with an identity outside of EU creation/control are not so welcome. Indeed they weaken the EU just as much as they do the older established nations.

  19. “Yes, yes, I agree, it must be a majority which want to go so on but why shouldn’t they be allowed to?”

    Well they should, but it should be a progressively higher barrier the smaller the unit.
    Isle of whight- yes, but why would they?
    isle of dogs no – but they may well want to.
    the main reason i can think of for independence is if you (an integral even historically independent) geographical unit are consistently landed with a central government of a different stripe to what you voted for (this applies to scotland) very unfair to expect to have to lump it without prospect of a swing in the other direction.

    If london wants to go on its own (singapore- malaya) – no effing way. The whole country revolves around it, it simply doesn’t belong to the londoners (who don’t tend to live there all their lives anyway)

  20. “parts of Northern France and Southern Britain into artificial entities with zero history”: come, come. Parts of Northern France and Southern England have lots of history together: read up on the Norman and Plantagenet kings.

    Indeed, read up on why Brittany is called Brittany. Read up on why there are so many villages in Northern France called Bretteville and approximations thereto.

  21. That is ancient history Dearime.

    Yeah I know what Brittany is and I don’t give a rat’s arse what goes on there. It’s none of my business and I don’t care and I don’t care that I don’t care. I have enough trouble with local council thieves and don’t want political trash from Brittany become to household names over here. Regardless of what part if any they played in the 1066 caper.

    Up to a certain point history merges with the present. Beyond that point it’s foundational nature remains but its immediate influence wanes. Otherwise we would still be fussed about the hot issues of Ancient Egypt.

  22. “Regardless of what part if any their forefathers played in the 1066 caper” is how it should read.

  23. Why should Scotland get to leave and Carlisle not be given an opportunity to go with them?

    If you gerrymander yourself a boundary and scrape 50.1% within it one time, then you get to leave.

    What if Scotland ex Edinburgh voted to leave?

    What if London voted to stay in EU?

    It’s a can of worms.

  24. @dearieme, October 28, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    the only bits of Scotland with a clear majority for independence were two Irish-rich areas, Dundee and the Glasgow conurbation.

    Yep. More or less Strathclyde, central belt and Dundee. Mostly the defunct subsidised metal-bashing heavy industry areas.

  25. “The necessity of the central nation state has rather faded in recent decades, no?” Has it really, Tim? I wonder what that Brexit vote was all about, then.
    “Yes, yes, I agree, it must be a majority which want to go an so on but why shouldn’t they be allowed to?” Answer in four words: The Spanish Civil War.

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