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Pic: Andreas Klinke Johanssen

Tuesday 10th
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

FIRST Minister Carles Puigdemont plans to address Catalonia's parliament today and it is suspected he might declare that country's independence.

His intention to make such an announcement yesterday was blocked by an order from Spain's constitutional court suspending the Catalan parliament.

Puigdemont holds that the 92 per cent vote for independence in October 1’s referendum – a vote scarred by a savage bid by the Spanish state to suppress it which injured hundreds – would legitimise any such declaration, but this continues a provocative approach which shows as little regard for Catalan public opinion as it does for the kingdom’s constitutional niceties. Only 43 per cent of eligible voters participated and for many this was because they disputed the legitimacy of the process.

Sunday's huge demonstration in Barcelona in favour of Spanish unity confirmed that many Catalans remain opposed to the break-up of Spain. The turnout was enormous even though the event was called by Madrid's ruling right-wing People's Party, thereby ensuring that far bigger numbers of pro-unity socialists and communists stayed away.

Puigdemont has dedicated his political life to Catalan nationalism, always showing far more enthusiasm for keeping wealth in the hands of Catalonia's landowning and business classes than for sharing any of it with the workers and families of either Catalonia or the rest of Spain.

Opinion polls had shown support for Catalan independence falling over the past year or two, from a high-point of almost 50 per cent in the recent recession to around 41 per cent a couple of weeks ago.

But then came the heavy-handed intervention by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, the Constitutional Court and the National Police to outlaw and forcibly disrupt the Catalan vote. That will have boosted the separatist cause.

As the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) has pointed out, what is needed now is neither more provocative actions from the Catalan government nor more crude and coercive reactions from the Spanish government.

In particular, moves to invoke Article 155 of Spain's constitution and impose direct rule on Catalonia would only inflame the situation still further. On the other side, decreeing Catalan independence without a real democratic mandate risks sparking civil war on the streets.

Dialogue must replace confrontation so that the views and aspirations of millions of people on both sides of the independence question can be allowed full, democratic and lawful expression. For that to take place, the prospects would be improved by resignations at the top in both Barcelona and Madrid. It is hard to see how any vote whose result would be accepted by both sides in Catalonia can proceed until that happens.

For the left in Catalonia, the rest of Spain and beyond, working-class interests should be paramount. These are rarely best served by hanging onto the coat-tails of big or small business nationalism, whether of the small or big nation variety.
  The Spanish communists call for a federal Spain based on social rights for all and solidarity between the peoples, with the right of national self-determination guaranteed in the constitution. Their voice of sanity needs to be heard.

Disingenuous game-playing from the European Commission

Up pops another EU bureaucrat, Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas, to tell the elected British government that 'the ball is entirely in the UK court' when it comes to exit neogtiations. Good. The EU should be told to keep its racket and come back to the table only when it intends to negotiate in good faith.

Labour should be slamming the disingenuous game-playing by both sides, instead of handing the duplicitous Eurocrats a free pass.