From Caledonia to Catalonia

If you haven’t seen the images of two million Catalans taking to the streets of Barcelona then you haven’t lived. Our political friends in the north east of Spain can show the Scots a thing or two about how to demonstrate on the streets. But each to their own. Every political culture has its own particular customs and marching is at the top for independistas from Ripoll to Palma.

So all this public display of political yearning had a purpose. To raise the temperature in the Catalan Parliamentary elections held on Sunday. And it worked. The alliance of the two biggest independence-supporting parties (which has run the Catalan government for the last three years), won the most seats and, together with a smaller independence party, have a clear parliamentary majority.

What was striking about this election was the issue of whether the Catalan Parliament has the right to hold a referendum to decide its constitutional future. The Spanish Government in Madrid makes the Unionist establishment in London look like a bunch of lily-livered patsies by their strident put down of democratic expression in Barcelona.

Spain’s return from its fascist past under Franco is marked by its iron rod rule in maintaining its boundaries. Yes there has been devolution over the years but not legislative powers on the scale of the Scottish Parliament. So while Catalan nationalists envy our legislative base, we tend to look on with a sigh at the fiscal autonomy granted to Barcelona.

However, it was Franco who destroyed the independent republic of Catalonia of the 1930s, massacring thousands of trade unionists, liberals and democrats as conservatism took authoritarian root. Short-lived though it was, history cannot be erased to deny the democratic legitimacy for Catalonia to re-assert its independence.

Artur Mas who leads the Together for Yes group declared that the parliamentary majority was a mandate for independence negotiations. That was always stated clearly in the run up to polling. Some Madrid centralists have even suggested bringing in the army like an echo to the fascist past but the the answer lies in Madrid following London and granting the referendum.

Just as in the lead up to the referendum in Scotland, there is a large majority who believe it is the democratic right of Catalonia to hold a plebiscite even if the support for independence is considerably less. What does Madrid fear? If the benefit of a united Spain cannot be defended, what right do they hold to thwart the Catalan people?

The parallels between Caledonia and Catalonia are often made though are clearly different in many respects. However, both peoples are united in their right to self determination. If you agree, join the Catalan-Scottish support groups on social media and help spread the message.