Democratic Snakes and Ladders

Recently, it seems that democracy itself has come in for a difficult time friends, it is the way that the majority of us live our lives, we are citizens, by and large of democratic states and with that come certain freedoms, the freedom of speech, the right to vote and the freedom of expression but one of these freedoms, for a certain region in Spain, was apparently and recently, undertaken illegally.

On October 1st of this year, the people of Catalonia were told that there would be a vote, a referendum on independence, a minority of them took this opportunity to carry out their democratic right, the vote obviously went the way of independence, which was later….nearly declared, for just hours after the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona made the decision clear, the Spanish government in Madrid approved new powers to take the Catalan region into its fold, direct rule was approved, though this was not the point that shocked me it was the parts before….

On the aforementioned date, the Spanish government, who for weeks beforehand had declared the vote ‘illegal‘, such an idea was astounding to me, a vote is illegal, a democratic right, a point that people have enjoyed for decades, lifetimes and generations, democracy itself has been around, in one form or another, since the Ancient Greeks.

So, how can a vote be illegal, well, that’s for others to debate and discuss, to me, to deny a population within a democratic nation the chance to vote is rather contradictory, though the Spanish government went one step further, they sent Spanish police into Catalonia, on the 1st of October, to stop the vote from going ahead, the images of which have been shown, repeated and displayed to audiences far from the nation that is currently struggling to recover and return to normality.

Since that point, the result has been denounced, the government in Catalonia has been disbanded and the police force in the region is now under the direct control of Spanish law enforcement, the way I talk about this, you would think that this was some kind of war, that Catalonia was a neighbouring country, though in a way, this would have been true if what has happened there, happened in the UK in 2014.

Imagine that for a second, Scotland, specifically, Holyrood declares that it will hold a Referendum on Independence on the 18th of September 2014 and Westminster replies by stating that this vote, this action is illegal, Holyrood continues, Westminster sends English police officers into Scotland to ensure that the vote doesn’t go ahead, a certain amount of the population does vote and the result is announced, Holyrood declares Scotland independent and Westminster dissolves Holyrood.

Now, obviously the scale is far greater than the situation currently happening in Spain but its a similar concept, this would be considered unthinkable, so why is Spain getting to do this, Catalonia may be a region but I fail to understand how a vote can be illegal, that would be the case in a dictatorship or a country that doesn’t consider itself democratic but Spain is, so, well now they have to reap the whirlwind of what they have done, the people of Catalonia are in limbo right now, they don’t know if Barcelona is in charge or Madrid.

Today is the first true day of Spain’s direct rule in Catalonia but it seems that the ousted Catalan government aren’t willing to leave their offices or positions, the Catalan Vice President, Oriol Junqueras, stated in a Catalan newspaper this weekend:

“We cannot recognise the coup d’etat against Catalonia, nor any of the anti-democratic decisions,”

So it would seem that the confusion and disarray will endure for a while to come, though it is the event itself that has caught this writer off-guard, I mean, a vote being declared illegal, the scenes on the 1st of October of clashes between Spanish police and civilians in Barcelona, the chaos that followed Spain’s decision to implant direct rule over the region and the uncertainty surrounding the future of this district of Spain.

It would be quite an amazing story if it wasn’t for the fact that it has actually happened, what occurs next however, well, that’s anyone’s guess, people with better understanding of the situation for one, as, like with the US Presidential Election, this writer is nothing more than a witness to the events in Spain.

Added Point: Hello friends, for the first time, I have to add points to a post I have made, mainly because this story, this situation is in flux and is changeable but also because what happened yesterday, the actual day I posted this, is quite striking, or maybe stunning is a better word to describe this.

Yesterday, (30/10/2017), the Spanish Prosecutor, Attorney General Jose Manuel Maza, declared that charges, including sedition and rebellion, were being brought against the former leadership of the Catalan government, now, I don’t want to make an obvious point here but when I heard this announcement on television, I was amazed, what century is this, the 21st or the 15th, Sedition, which is basically inciting others to rebel against lawful authority, though can also be the subversion of a constitution against the government.

This is Spain re-affirming its control over Catalonia, with charges now being brought against the ex-hierarchy, workers ignoring calls for civil disobedience and pro-independence parties agreeing to take part in an election scheduled for December, it would seem that the Independence that was announced has been renounced, that normal service, or at least a replacement government service is in operation and the country is continuing, though this event, this episode is far from over, the end of Catalan devolution, however temporary, means that the Spanish government have contained what was a secession from their rule, though they will have a bit of trouble getting the former Catalan leader, Carlos Puidgemont, who has apparently fled to Belgium, what he will do from there is anyone’s guess, there are rumours that he could set up a government in exile but what effect this could have is described as being minimal.

Independence is a concept that countries rarely achieve through democratic action, so to have two Independence Referendums in the space of three years, (Brexit isn’t technically independence.), the democratic act is rather surprisingly either rejected (like in 2014), or shut down from the overseeing Government (presently).

Democracy, it is a matter that many take for granted but when it leads to scenes like on October 1st and the sweeping reclamation of the Catalan region over the past few days, the question has to be, when does Democracy become illegal, when does voting become criminal, consider for a second the boycotted election in Kenya, which has seen a 90% return for the President of that country, (this being because his main rival asked his supporters to ignore or boycott the vote), then consider that, despite the minimal percentage in the Catalan vote, how lucky it is that we have that undeniable and chaste right.

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