The Spanish government is engaged in a systematic attempt to undermine democracy in the region of Catalonia. They have threatened to arrest 700 elected mayors, other elected officials and the former head of the government. They have conducted raids of newspapers and other media organisations, and shut down a number of websites. They seized ballot boxes and voting materials. Spain may well have the rights to disagree with the people of Catalonia, and may have the constitutional authority to ignore this referendum, but to attempt to stifle, criminalise and persecute the exercise of democracy, free speech and the free press, is reprehensible. As is the complicity of the EU through its silence.

[In Spanish/En Español]

El gobierno español está involucrado en el intento sistemático de socavar la democracia en la región de Cataluña. Han amenazado con detener a 700 alcaldes electos, otros oficiales electos y el anterior dirigente del gobierno. Han realizado redadas oficinas de periódicos, también como otras organizaciones de la prensa, y han cerrado varias páginas web. Han incautado urnas y materiales de votación. España quizás tenga el derecho de disentir de la voluntad popular del pueblo catalán, y quizás tenga la autoridad constitucional para ignorar al referéndum, pero es reprensible el intento de reprimir, criminalizar y perseguir el ejercicio de la democracia, la libertad de expresión y la libertad de prensa. Así también la complicidad de la UE a través de su silencio sobre la situación.

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  1. There is, I think, a fundamental problem exposed by both the Catalan and the UK situations re: decentralisation and devolution. It is that both have been done in a piecemeal manner and have created a small number of over-privileged regional governments (based on who-shouts-the-loudest and/or historical accidents of past statehood), instead of proceeding from a basis of equality of all citizens and creating regionalised bodies of roughly equal size. I now deeply regret actively campaigning for devolution in Scotland: I had naïvely assumed it would have been accompanied with plans for an equality of devolution throughout the UK. Morally as well as politically, it is imperative to end the current unbalanced situation and give all regions of similar size equal powers, regardless of anachronistic nonsense about what is/isn’t a nation. We should be abolishing the notion of nation states, not creating more of the damn things, putting borders through people’s lives and depriving them of any democratic say in the lives of members of their own families because of geographical accident.

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