As Catalonia appears to be preparing to declare independence from Spain early next week, central governments across Europe are feeling increasingly anxious about their ability to control their respective secessionist movements.
The primary argument made by the Spanish government and its alles against Catalonian secession is that the region’s process to secede has been inconsistent with established law.
Thomas Harrington, professor of Hispanic Studies at Trinity College, calls that argument hogwash:
Do you remember all the procedurally pristine processes that led to the independence (and, in numerous cases, subsequent rapid entry into the EU) of countries like Kosovo, Croatia, Slovenia and a long list of others? I don’t either because they didn’t take place. And I certainly don’t remember any of today’s legion of newborn “proceduralists” raising any objections about it then.
What took place was that EU leadership class led by Germany saw in these countries as a new set of relatively virgin markets that were also filled with low wage labor that would allow them serve, in Emannuel Todd’s words, as Germany’s “Near China”.
Arguably more important that [t]his was NATO’s – which is to say the US’s – desire to surround the former Soviet Union with countries loyal to its geopolitical aims. They knew that by pressuring the Europeans to swiftly acquiesce to the independence of the newly declared independent countries of the east, they could quickly corral those countries into serving as part of the US’s emerging anti-Russian coalition, an absolutely essential element of the American’s long-term geopolitical plans.
In addition to avoiding these realities, the new army [of] oh-so-concerned proceduralists obviate the fact that from the very beginning of the current drive for independence in 2010 it has been precisely the Catalanists who have talked constantly about the need to carry the referendum off in the most transparent way possible, only to be told again and again by the Spanish state that there was nothing to talk about.
To hold up the lack of pristine procedure as a fatal strike against the Catalan cause when their natural interlocutor will not allow talks about proper procedure to even begin, is tantamount to severely penalizing a woman who finally walks out the door of her house after having had her perennial requests for a peaceful, no-contest divorce dismissed out of hand by the man she no longer loves.
Finally, if there is one thing that established states can always do, as we saw on Sunday in a particularly crude way, it is to sabotage the “procedures” of the the incipient states within its borders. To appoint the potential sabotager of democratic procedures, in this case Spain, as the judge of whether proper procedures were followed in the region seeking independence is, in addition to being patently absurd, to hand the established state an effective veto power sine die in the clash of political interests
I don’t remember anyone granting the Serbs or the Russians this absurd privilege in earlier times. Why then are supposedly liberal and democratic people bending over backwards to provide the Spaniards with it now?
Lombardia and Venezia
Meanwhile, Catalonia’s relatively successful attempt at holding a secession vote has given northern Italians an additional impetus to seek further autonomy from the central Italian government:
This month the Lombardy region and the city of Venice will both vote on new powers of autonomy at referendums which are now taking on increasing levels of controversy.
Previously seen as a low-scale vote on local powers, the referendums are now experiencing symbolic overtones following last Sunday’s Catalonian chaos.
Last weekend more than 800 people were injured by police as a referendum on independence for Catalonia was held – against the express wishes of leaders in Madrid and Brussels.
And now Italy is facing similar chaos with two referendums set to be held on October 22, although in these instances the votes are state-approved and will not face violent opposition.
The autonomy referendums for Lombardy, a region which includes Italy’s second-largest city of Milan, and the travel hotspot of Venice will also differ from Catalonia in that they are not binding.
The referendums will ask voters if they want their regional council to invoke the third paragraph of Article 116 of the Italian Constitution.
This allows regions with a balanced budget to ask the Italian government to entrust them with new powers and a greater degree of autonomy.
(h/t Vox Day)
Just the beginning?
Additionally, the Express correctly observed that “the consequences of two yes votes could be shattering for Italy, sparking other separatists movements across the European Union nation.” (By the way, isn’t it interesting that the article calls the EU a “nation”?) For example, in addition to Catalonia, many Basques want to be independence from Spain. Scotland is considering seceding from Britain. Furthermore, Belgium, France, and Denmark have to contend with secession movements of their own.
While EU bureaucrats had been dreaming about creating a European superstate, for now it appears that they’ll have to turn their attention to helping their member states remain in current form.
Whether they will be successful remains to be seen.