Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain.
If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.
Life in Spain
- Cataluña 1: There's a lull this weekend in the stand-off between Barcelona and Madrid. Quite possibly a calm before the next storm, due now on Tuesday.
- Cataluña 2: A few points from a Times editorial today:-
- The political drama is now approaching a potential cataclysm and Madrid's softening is possibly too late.
- Madrid’s handling of the crisis has been ham-fisted.
- The history of rancour seems to rob Madrid’s politicians of any sense of diplomacy.
- Historians on either side argue fruitlessly over the extent to which Catalonia has been an independent country. More significantly, is it equipped to go off on its own?
- Cataluña 3: The eminent - left-leaning - historian of Spain, Paul Preston, makes the following points in an article today, all of which are hard to deny:-
- The events of last weekend have confirmed a pattern of the past 100 years — of which Rajoy seems unaware — whereby Catalan separatism feeds off Madrid’s centralist intransigence.
- With a deep sense of separate identity, built on a different language, a rich culture of literature, architecture and music, many Catalans aspire to greater political recognition and fiscal autonomy.
- In 2005, when support for Catalan independence stood at just 13.6%, a revised autonomy statute was drafted. It was approved in the Madrid Cortes in 2006 but fiercely criticised by the Spanish right-wing media. A challenge by the right-wing Popular Party (PP) saw the text referred to the extremely conservative constitutional tribunal. After a four-year delay, which frustrated and inflamed independence sentiment, its judgment in June 2010 revoked articles concerning fiscal parity and added references to the “indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation”. It was a slap in the face for the moderates who had hoped for a mutually beneficial arrangement with Spain.
- In the present stand-off, a unilateral declaration of independence would be rash. Even if Madrid did not respond with violence, a Catalan state would face immense difficulties in integrating into the EU.
- Equally, that Madrid should have risked the economic lunacy of alienating one of the country’s wealthiest regions is a triumph of ideology over a sense of history. There is electoral capital to be made in parts of Spain from anti-Catalanism but, in the long-term, it can only damage Spain.
- The present situation could easily have been avoided.
- The scale of violations of human rights would make it difficult for the EU to go on saying that this is just an internal matter for Spain.
Finally . . . Smartphone Addiction: The Reaction: Worth a read.
A repeat . . .
Catalonia's cry for independence is the inevitable response to 'European identity': Christopher Booker
What an extraordinary mess Spain and Catalonia are getting into with each other. On Monday, a senior MEP told me from Strasbourg that the only talking point among his fellow MEPs was vociferous support for the police in Spain, who the previous day had beaten up 900 would-be voters in Catalonia’s referendum.
King Felipe of Spain and the EU were as one in condemning the referendum as flouting “democracy and the rule of law”. But this might recall the two core principles set out in what was, in effect, the blueprint for the future European Union, in a book called "The United States of Europe" in 1932. Behind it was the thinking of two former senior officials of the old League of Nations, one of them Jean Monnet.
The real enemy of the uniting of Europe, they argued, was the evil of nationalism: what Monnet called “national egoism”. And the way to overcome this was to create a “supra-national” government that was the reverse of democratic, being run by a “commission” of unelected technocratic officials with no national loyalty.
When, 20 years later, Monnet was given the chance to put their dream into practice, these were the two principles – anti-nationalistic and anti-democratic – on which the “European project” would continue to be built for decades: draining ever more powers from the nation states to the Commission at its centre, flanked by other institutions, such as a fake “European Parliament” and a European Court of Justice whose only roles were to promote further integration.
But what we have seen in recent years has been the inevitable result of this attempt to eliminate national identity and democracy. All across Europe we have seen the rise of populist movements, from Britain, France and Germany to Greece and Poland, only wishing to reassert a sense of national self-interest against that fake “European identity” represented by a supra-national system to which they feel no loyalty.
Indeed it is not only between nations that such a sense of local identity has been stirred but within them: Scots against English, northern Italy against the south, the Flemish against the Walloons, not to mention that of those Russian-speakers in Crimea and eastern Ukraine who have preferred to be ruled by their fellow-Russians in Moscow than by some alien government in faraway Brussels.
Now, as disruptive as any, we see this latest regional rising by the people of Catalonia, which hasn’t even been a country since it merged with Aragon in 1137. However messily and illegally, this is just another inchoate expression of resentment against those remote, self- seeking forms of government that all over Europe, and at every level, have lost any meaningful connection with the people they are meant to serve.