Monday, March 17, 2014

Two Questions, the Lesser of Two Evils

There is a feeling that a referendum with two questions is in fact a pitfall. The arguments are clear enough:

- Scotland’s question is validated by one of the world's most powerful states, the UK, and de facto by the European Union.

- The Scottish question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?” is clear. No discussions. The Catalan questions, in the case of a close-cut result, would lead to an impasse of various interpretations.

- Two questions will always weaken the result of a YES, because being unclear will lead to lower participation.

- The first Catalan question is worryingly naive, it makes no sense. The word State has different meanings in international law: Bavaria, Texas, Spain and Andorra are States. Gaddafi's Libya was, of its own choice, not a state.

Notwithstanding, this has been the lesser of two evils for three reasons.

The first is that left wing Iniciativa(ICV-EUiA), a mainly unionist party, has joined the bloc of those calling the referendum. This was vital to weaken the bloc opposing it. In fact the question was in the hands of ICV-EuiA and everyone knew it. The election results left no other option. Many wanted to believe that minority Catalan government coalition party Unió Democràtica de Catalunya(UDC) had a final say, but it was not like that. The Christian Democrats had no weight in the negotiations because their power is severely limited by their profile and dependence on their majority partners in the government coalition, Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC).

Secondly, the question leaves the Catalan Socialists (PSC-PSOE), the branch of the Spanish Socialist PSOE, in checkmate. There is no political reason for opposing the referendum, except for submission to headquarters in Madrid. With the dual question, the Catalan section of the PSOE has been blown away and has ended up submitted to radical unionism.

The third reason is definitive. The Kingdom of Spain will oppose the holding of the referendum with all its strength. It has the weapons, money and its internal legislation in its favour. This is the next phase of the struggle: the fight for a referendum. And in this sense, the question or questions take second place. That´s why it was so important to weaken those opposing the referendum. And thus the question itself, though bad, is not substantial. If Spain ends up stopping the referendum, the process will probably end up with a unilateral declaration of independence, and the question will simply be to ratify it.

Jordi Vàzquez
Editor for Help Catalonia

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