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Tag: referendum

Catalonia: Here the Russians, there Assange

Saturday, 30 September, 2017 0 Comments

One of the scariest things during the Catalan referendum campaign has been the instrumentalization by the government in Madrid of El País, Spain’s most widely-circulated daily and considered to be country’s paper of record. During the past week, El País has gone to great lengths to find “reds under the beds” in Barcelona and its articles on alleged Russian involvement in the referendum have been so transparently planted that one has to laugh out loud at their amateurishness. Catalan separatism is not indebted to Moscow in any way and its integrity is as far from Putinism as Montserrat is from Vladivostok. The crux of the matter is cultural:

“Many Catalans do not ‘feel’ Spanish. They have spent the years since the death of Franco recreating their country, taking what power they can and using it to consolidate the idea of Catalonia as a place as worthy to be a state as any other European country.” Colm Tóibín, The Guardian

Still, those who long for tales of Russian manipulation of campaigns will take a crumb of comfort from the intervention of Julian Assange in the referendum. From his self-imposed exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Assange tweeted:

“What is happening in Catalonia in the most significant Western conflict between people and state since the fall of the Berlin wall — but its methods are 2017, from VPNs, proxies, mirrors and encrypted chat to internet surveillance and censorship, bot propaganda and body armor.”

Like Edward Snowden, Julian Assange is a Russian tool and a nasty piece of work but his ability to influence events abroad or do harm at home is limited. Both are Twitter bores now and, as Ned Price, points out. “The only thing more insufferable than @JulianAssange is @JulianAssange with 280 characters.”

Robots voting


“Spain Should Remain United”

Thursday, 28 September, 2017 0 Comments

“”Spain Is A Great Country And Should Remain United.” With those words, spoken at the White House, in the presence of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, President Donald Trump guaranteed that he would be unloved by Catalan separatists. Already hated by the media, feminists and North Koreans, Mr Trump didn’t really need to bring down the wrath of Catalonia on his head, but he went there, nonetheless. From now on, Donald Trump will be depicted as the devil at the annual Santa Tecla fireworks displays. But he can live with that, one suspects.

Meanwhile, Madrid is increasing its pressure on Barcelona to cancel Sunday’s “illegal” referendum on independence.

Catalan unhero


Madrid vs. Barcelona

Tuesday, 26 September, 2017 0 Comments

Spain is in crisis and the government in Madrid has two options: bad and very bad. If it overreacts to the Catalan demands for independence, a dramatic backlash in Barcelona is inevitable, but if it ignores the rebellion in the north, constitutional order in Spain will be put at risk. Last week’s arrests of Catalan administration officials on charges of abetting unlawful acts in pursuit of the 1 October referendum have further inflamed the separatists, who control the streets and the means of cultural production. So, the situation is likely to deteriorate, solidifying the victim role that the Catalans are playing to the full. Neither side intends to retreat and the potential for tragedy is real.

Catalonia


English referee: Wales in, Northern Ireland out

Saturday, 25 June, 2016 1 Comment

Norn IronWe’re talking football, here, not referendum results. This evening in Parc des Princes in Paris, Wales and Northern Ireland are set for an historic meeting as they each attempt to reach their first European Championship quarter-final. Given the backstory of the players, the football on offer will be will be more like that seen in Premier League fixture, rather than a continental style game and, keeping it in the family, as it were, the match has an English referee in Martin Atkinson.

Wales Wales have a trump card in Gareth Bale, the world’s most expensive footballer. With a goal in each group match he is tied with Spain’s Álvaro Morata as the tournament’s joint top scorer on three, one ahead of his Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo. The prediction here is that after Martin Atkinson blows the final whistle, Bale’s Wales will be in and Northern Ireland out of the competition.

It was a different story with Thursday’s EU referendum. The Leave side won in Wales, where 52.5% voters chose to depart the EU, compared with 47.5% supporting Remain. Northern Ireland, on the other hand, voted to stay in the EU by a majority of 56% to 44%.


The drums of Catalonia

Sunday, 9 November, 2014 1 Comment

The Catalans are having a moment today. They’re holding a referendum of sorts on the notion of independence from Spain. But because central government in Madrid forbids the use of the “referendum” word in this case, Barcelona is forced to speak of “a non-binding, participatory process” instead. When Scotland held an independence referendum in September, EU leaders hailed it as an exercise in popular democracy, but they’re hostile to the right of Catalonia to make a similar decision. Why? “Apparently they have forgotten that the right of self-determination of nations is a long-standing, fundamental and universal principle of modern democracy.” So says Latvian writer Otto Ozols in an article for Delfi. Meanwhile, Sydney has voted on “el 9N.”

Catalonian drummers


Seasons dancing, life advancing

Sunday, 16 February, 2014 0 Comments

The transcendence of love over the limits imposed by season and time is a constant motif in the poetry of Robert Burns. His other great theme is Scotland. The country in which he lived was in flux and the great debates of the day revolved around identity. Should Scotland adopt English manners, or should it […]

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Cameron: It will be in-out

Wednesday, 23 January, 2013 0 Comments

“The next Conservative Manifesto in 2015 will ask for a mandate from the British people for a Conservative Government to negotiate a new settlement with our European partners in the next Parliament. It will be a relationship with the Single Market at its heart. And when we have negotiated that new settlement, we will give […]

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