A boring morning: I can’t find anyone who, following yesterday’s Catalan parliamentary elections, is prepared to bet against a ruling coalition consisting of conservative nationalists, Convergence and Union (CiU), and the secessionists, Republican Left (ERC). The conventional wisdom is that, in synch with their legal and proscribed Basque counterparts, their strategy is going to be to force central government into a confrontation over a proposal for a new statute of autonomy that would tear up Spain’s 1978 democratic constitution. It may turn out like that, and it may not, but it’s certainly going to be interesting in the allegedly Chinese sense of the word.
The Catalan statute of autonomy became law in 1979 and, as foreseen in the Spanish constitution, it defines the political institutions of devolved government, their powers and their relationships with the state. While any change has to be OKed by the Madrid parliament – something that’s not going to happen in the foreseeable future – the interesting bit of the statute for our purposes is article 56.1b which states that the first hurdle a reform proposal has to pass is achieving two-thirds support in the regional parliament. I think there are three possible scenarios, all of which illustrate the futility of any further attempts by constitutionalist parties to come to an accommodation with the nationalists:
- CiU-ERC buy the support of the nine communist (ICV) deputies and 12 Catalan socialists (PSC) they’re going to need to push through a secessionist reform package. They then use this show of unity to blackmail Madrid into change.
Since it is inconceivable that the socialist parties in regions like Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha would allow the national party (PSOE) to agree to PSC support for constitutional change in this fashion, this will probably mean one of two things:
- The expulsion of the PSC from the national party.
- A split within the PSC itself.
Given the current pitiful state of the national party and the traditional betrayal by the PSC of its working class Spanish electorate in pursuit of Catalanist goals, both these are possible.
- CiU-ERC do a deal with the communists and then put a less extreme proposal to a vote in the regional parliament. If enough socialists peel away, fine. If they don’t, then the coalition will proceed unilaterally and unconstitutionally to alter the statute, cutting out the Madrid loop and hoping that the national government won’t dare to call their bluff by sending the troops in.
- We actually get a PSC-CiU coalition which, with the support of at least two communists, gets a reform package through the regional parliament and then starts haggling with Madrid, all the while holding the ERC gun behind its back. (At the first Esquerra meeting I went to, just after Batasuna was banned, a Basque speaker was introduced by the chair. “I can’t tell you my name or which organisation I belong to, but you know, don’t you, and you know what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it!” she announced, to a standing ovation.)
Meanwhile, one suspects that multinationals will prefer to invest in places like Madrid or the Czech republic where there is no threat of violence and where the main local industry is not flag production.
- Guardian prints any old bollocks about Catalonia
There’s a terrible piece by James Sturcke in the Guardian today on the statute of autonomy. It repeats various stale myths
- Why does the PNV hate Fujimori?
Someone just sent me a wild and wildly misleading press release (Spanish) from the PNV, the main legal Basque nationalist party.
- Concierto económico for Catalonia, independence for Andalusia?
With observations regarding the possible implications for Extramaduran truckers and flamenco policy.
- Kurlansky / Basques / Wikipedia
The Guardian got a “panel of experts” to take a look at the Wikipedia. Here’s what Mark Kurlansky, author of The
- “ETA is a Marxist organization”
Americans really don’t understand us