Spain Just Lit a Fuse Under Catalonia — its Richest Region

Acute uncertainty is like sand in the gears of the local economy. 

By Don Quijones, Spain, UK, & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.

It’s amazing how fast the wheels of the Spanish justice system go round when the establishment wants them to, and how slowly they revolve when it doesn’t, which is usually when members of the same establishment — senior politicians and civil servants, bankers, business owners, or even royalty — are in the dock, which is happening with disturbing regularity these days.

On Thursday we saw Spanish justice at its fastest. In the dock was the recently sacked vice president of Catalonia’s separatist government, Oriol Junqueras, and seven other elected representatives of the breakaway region who stand accused of a litany of charges, including rebellion, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment.

The counsel for the defence had less than 24 hours to prepare the case. After just a few hours of hearing preliminary evidence, the National Court Judge sent half of Catalonia’s suspended government to jail without bail. On Friday, the same judge issued an international arrest warrant for Carles Puigdemont, the disputed Catalan president who fled to Brussels on Monday, as well as four other former ministers who did not show up to court on Thursday.

Catalonia’s separatist politicians are paying a very high price for overplaying their hand. As we warned months ago, many in the Catalan government had hoped that threatening to declare independence unilaterally, or even following through on the threats (which it kind of did on Friday), might be enough to push the Spanish government into having to compromise. It was a massive bluff, and it’s hugely backfired.

But while jailing Catalonia’s elected government may be justifiable by Spanish law and will probably go some way to placating the more revanchist elements of the Spanish public, it will also further inflame tensions and polarize divisions within Spain’s north eastern region while doing yet more damage to the tattered image of Spanish democracy in the rest of the world. It also risks exacerbating economic uncertainty and instability in Catalonia, Spain’s richest region.

Just when things appeared to be returning to some semblance of normality as local people and the region’s political parties turned their attention to the regional elections scheduled for December 21, Rajoy, his government, and the judges they help appoint just lit a fuse under the region.

In Catalonia today it’s virtually impossible to tell what will happen tomorrow, let alone this time next month or next year. Such acute uncertainty is like sand in the gears of the local economy. Rather than slowing, the exodus of Catalan-based companies to other parts of Spain has actually accelerated in the wake of Madrid’s activation of article 155 of Spain’s constitution. On Tuesday alone an additional 99 companies bid farewell to Catalonia, albeit merely on paper for now.

Spain’s central bank yesterday warned that the current crisis could, in the worst case scenario, end up shaving 2.5 percentage points off Spain’s GDP in the next two years. That could be very optimistic if a genuine, lasting solution is not found to this crisis soon — and preferably one that does not involve the government in Madrid criminalizing a political movement supported by roughly half the region’s population.

The greatest tragedy of all, as British-Spanish journalist John Carlin wrote yesterday in the Barcelona daily La Vanguarda, is just how “spectacularly unnecessary” the current conflict is and how easily it could have all been avoided:

First, with a change of the sacred text of the Spanish Constitution and the approval of an agreed referendum, just as any other modern and democratic State (Canada, United Kingdom) would have done in similar circumstances. But it could have been avoided with even less, with merely conciliatory gestures and respectful words, with the granting of extra powers to the autonomous Catalan region, with a minimum of statesmanship, with the desire to think first of the general good.

Instead, what we have is a constant escalation of tensions from a government majority ruled by a party (Popular Party) that is implicated in over 60 major political scandals — more than just about any other governing party in Europe. And yet, even as the party continually falls on the wrong side of the law, the EU holds it up as a defender of the rule of law.

Spain’s Premier Mariano Rajoy recently become the first sitting prime minister to appear as a witness in a Spanish court when he gave evidence in a massive corruption case involving the alleged illegal financing of his Popular Party.

One of the dozens of companies embroiled in the Popular Party’s kickback scandals is Indra, a semi state-owned tech giant that organizes the vote counting for virtually all of Spain’s political elections, including Catalonia. The company is alleged to have paid Rajoy’s party €600,000 of public funds diverted through a complex network of shell companies. The scandal barely graced the front pages of Spain’s newspapers.

Now Indra gets to organize the vote counting for Catalonia’s do-or-die elections in December.

For years, this sort of corruption has consistently ranked as the second biggest cause for concern after unemployment in Spain. Now, it’s the prospect of Catalan independence that’s at the forefront of people’s minds. It’s the perfect smokescreen for the endless corruption trials of PP politicians, the stagnating wages, the ballooning public debt, the collapsing banks and the shrinking pension pot that the government has systematically plundered to plug some of its own massive fiscal shortfalls.

In short, Spain’s economy is perhaps not as robust as recent growth figures may suggest. Unemployment, already at 17.1%, surged by 58,000 in October as the number of highly seasonal tourist-dependent jobs began shrinking. Market-entry salaries are 14% lower than they were in 2008.

Worse still, the economy’s recent show of strength was based on three main pillars: consistently low global energy prices, the large-scale diversion of tourists from geopolitical hot spots like Turkey and Egypt, and dirt cheap public debt resulting from Mario Draghi’s massive binge-buying of euro zone sovereign bonds. And all of these pillars are beginning to show signs of strain. As tensions continue to rise in Catalonia, the economic uncertainty digs in for the long haul. By Don Quijones.

Emotions are running high on both sides of the divide. Read… Catalonia and Spain Enter Dangerous Uncharted Territory

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  51 comments for “Spain Just Lit a Fuse Under Catalonia — its Richest Region

  1. Michael S Goodman says:

    …y en el quadragesimo-segundo ano, se resusicito Franco! lol

    • Peter says:

      The latest that I am hearing is that the PP is busy speed registering non residents in Barcelona to vote (200,000) in December including the guardia civil and other civil servants. It normally takes much longer than a few weeks to change residency. This is blatant election rigging from a fascist state.

    • Old Engineer says:

      Estoy de acuerdo. Chevy Chase (I think it was) used to say as part of a Saturday Night Live skit that “Francisco Franco is still dead.” I first thought of that old line when they sent the Guardia in to break heads. I guess he can’t say that anymore.

      • Michael S Goodman says:

        Oh yes, back in the “Night Ready for Prime Time Players” days, on “Weekend Update”.

  2. Cynic says:

    Yes, a very great miscalculation on the part of the separatists – and also they were caught up in the momentum of events.

    For Rajoy, the electoral advantage of getting tough was always going to outweigh anything else by far.

    And as DQ points out, the distraction value is immense – the corruption trials barely feature in the news sites!

    No statesmanship, no concern for the common good, but excellent party politics.

    The Basque regional government is resolutely refusing to take the same path, and also refrained from recognising the ‘Catalan Republic’ (or was it even declared?) . Very sensible.

    • TJ Martin says:

      Propaganda 101 ;

      Rule #1 – Distraction Distraction Distraction .

      as for ” The Basque regional government is resolutely refusing to take the same path ”

      The Basque regional government in a moment of spinelessness may feel that way but …

      Having friends in Galicia with friends and associates in the Basque region what I’m hearing from ground level is that in the long run it is Rajoy who is making the biggest blunder as ETA along with several other semi autonomous regions and radical groups previously placated ramp up for what may become another Spanish Civil war . One I’m afraid no one will come out the winner from but definitely not Rajoy or his puppet government

      Suffice it to say memories of Franco run deep … there’ll be hell to pay in the end … and this .. is gonna get ugly … not to mention putting the EU to the most severe test of its existence

      • Cynic says:

        I’m very close to politics in the Basque Country – close family are actually in parliament there (shan’t say exactly which party, because then it all turns sectarian).

        A phrase which applies very often in Spanish separatist and regionalist politics is ‘All sound and fury, signifying nothing’.

        Yes, people get very worked up and emotional, particularly if the had relations killed by the Right in the Civil War (my grandfather escaped, my great-uncle killed) or during the ETA years.

        But, on the whole, very little happens: both the Basque Country and Catalonia are deeply divided. Separatists always like to say they represent ‘the people’ and are very sure as to ‘what the people want’, but only ever stand for one sector.

        This is why the Basque government is refusing to walk into the trap and recognise the Catalan Republic , which would get it 155-ed in short order – very prudent, not spineless.

        • Michael S Goodman says:

          Probably the PNV? lol

        • Cynic says:

          No, not the PNV. But they are the only party I tend to vote for – ‘God and the Old Laws is quite a slogan for a party!

          Before Nationalism was invented, my family were probably all Carlists, coming from the mountains of Navarre, a village which no longer exists, in a valley which is fast dying, like so many in Spain…… :)

    • Crysangle says:

      I don’t think they miscalculated.

      You and I know PP would never back down and u-turn on tightening control of the region, it would have ended their political status.

      Same goes for allowing a referendum, it would have opened the door to regional secessionist politics.

      So effectively the secessionist movement is drawing in the legal twilight zone, backed by local democratic status, and catching Spain out again and again. That legal twilight zone exists in all constitutional states – the power of majority rule of law over individual choice, so it is both understandable that most states are uneasy with events, and well worth observing as a precedent to future social/political understanding and method. Equally it might demonstrate that there is no tolerance for regionalism, the old way, by conflict.

      This is a long game, as long as the Catalan position is maintained then it is more a question of eventually forging its own status once the right wing loses government. That said, there is no agreed choreography to events , the country may become very unstable at some point.

      • Cynic says:

        Yes, a long game. So long that no one wins, because they are all dead. :)

        Their miscalculation in Catalonia has perhaps been placing too much hope in an EU intervention of some kind, behind the scenes, hoping that it would induce Rajoy to be more moderate and de-escalate things.

        They have discovered that Europe means little in this respect, although grumpy remarks have been made it seems about Rajoy’s lack of sense and ability from the Brussels perspective.

        They completely underestimated the deep EU opposition to secessionist movements in Europe (although not on the border, as Putin amusingly pointed out).

        Part of the separatist movement could have been bought off with tax concessions, the rest are fanatic and do-or-die obsessives but the movement has many fault-lines to be exploited.

        Instead, Europe washed its hands, and Rajoy picked up the sledge-hammer: he has to worry about the growth of the ‘Citizens’ party, which is doing very well indeed with its hard-line stance (they are the true Francoists now).

        • Crysangle says:

          Yes, but I don’t trust EU either, it is quite possible that they are taking “the correct line” with regards to the member states, but are actually very amenable to fragmentation of national authority at the same time. By that token a socialist federalism would seem more along their line of ideology. EU/ECB has unspoken financial control over Spain’s economy, if Spain goes back into recession and EU is ‘unable to’ supply relief , then there is room for a left wing, regionalist, government.

          Ciudadanos are quite peculiar as a party, they are center right, with a strong social rights streak. Though not quite Macronesque, they seemingly appeared right on queue to represent the failings of the two traditional parties, while Podemos took the left wing protest vote. Now they are mixed in with PP, their stronger right wing attitude is really up for display. At national political level, nationalism is about the only guaranteed vote winner around , if you are not nationalist you are out by over 30% of the electorate, in which case you had better be on the other side for the opposing 30% , because the middle 30% are fed up with it all and are not accountable in terms of projections. That is why PSOE dare side with their former oponents on this, else they become relegated to the party that made regional agreement that was then overturned by public choice, no man’s land. So instead they try for the constitutionalist position, which is manifest via a PP government that is not exactly unbiased… something PSOE are having trouble explaining in real terms to their traditional base.

          The other 10%? Well I guess they are separatists.

          Either way Spanish politics has become quite degenerate, relying on relatively extreme definitions of loyalty…they just don’t seem to be able to reconstruct a buoyant direction after the bust. Still a great country and people in many ways, but an endless accumulation of unresolved difficulties make future direction less than certain, and the handling of them often adding to the problem instead of helping. Sometimes I think the country is purposefully being sunk, with only its own weaknesses available to blame.

          “Everyone cheated her, but she was her own destruction”

        • Cynic says:

          Very good comments, Crysangle.

          I’m afraid compromise is not something Iberians do very well – everything is apt to be framed in terms of ‘loyalty’ or ‘treachery’, and people have trouble existing outside a recognised group – not just in practical terms, of patronage and connections, but there is a psychological need to belong. ‘Sell an idea to a Spaniard and he will die for it.’ And kill. Lots of tangles and shadows and complications from the ever-present past,as you say.

          Separatists, above all of the Left, are mostly mental cases, in my experience, and interesting evidence is emerging that they pushed Puigdemont into the declaration of independence, after he and Urkullu in the Basque Country – with some businessmen and Church leaders – had more or less worked out a de-escalation process which would have avoided the imposition of A. 155.

          It was also not possible to trust fully the good faith of the PP – not surprising, who would? And they wouldn’t give any public guarantees of de-escalation, for obvious reasons. The EU are probably miffed about that (‘things were not done which should have been’, Juncker.)

          As regards the ‘Citizens’ party, they are really quite sinister, and growing: a cousin who moves in upper political and social circles in Catalonia, ie old-style conservative, knows their leaders there, and says he finds them disturbing: ‘Real Falangists’ in modern garb. True Iberian fascists, in other words. Hence the social tinge to their rhetoric as well as the rabid patriotism.

          He gets to hear what these people really think when relaxing over cognac and cigars, -they think he is one of them – and is a very smart, decent, chap, so I trust his view.

          Poor Spain.

        • Crysangle says:

          I coincide there. Personally I think the PP is the better option of party, they are generally reliable in both the good and not so good sense. As a Spanish associate once said flatly , in a very clear yet ambiguous way ‘ it’s that there is no-one better’ . PSOE was ok in the good times, you could just about ignore anything, and slack meant free, but they had no solution ( either) to ‘la crisis’. Even PP is only running on a tightened attitude of identity, but the economics are pretty much a continuation of what the country has originally subscribed to. Part of the trouble with Cataluña is that finance is not product of BoE and government policy, it was the old hierarchy, now fused into the EU finance circle, one which fed regional independence ( in spending etc) up to the bust until the regions had to turn back to Madrid for resolution, and Madrid to EU to a degree.

          I could never connect with Ciudadanos, I always felt there was some kind of gimmick going. Falangist is quite a good description, a party for the left on the right.

          When I try to fathom what is behind the Catalan seperatist movement (besides the existing will of Catalans themselves obviously) I sort of hit a blank. I am certain there is a wider platform, and my intuition is that France and EU are somehow involved, but my knowledge stops there. My experience in Andalucia of regional power (socialist) has shown me that Spanish regional politics is now clearly trans-national. Though Diaz has walked into the PP fold now, the main PSOE is becoming more technocratic and closer to their French counterparts…PSOE used to be as its name suggested, very much a ground level affair. Even the unions have gone silent.

          Funny world we live in.

        • Crysangle says:

          I’ll just chip in for those that don’t know at all what the Falange stands for (and it is hard because it is very cult like in its organisation). Basically it is Spanish empirialist philosophy, based on fascist principles ( group cohesion to form a powerful point of decision) , which is all inclusive at a level of recognition of basic humanity , i.e. no matter your origin, you are guaranteed a fair position ( but I guess if you oppose them it comes down to just desserts).

          So they are not ‘bad’ , per se ( the political movement/ideology is registered as acceptable under Spanish law) , unless you cross them, which is hard not to do, given the goal of eventual all inclusive dominance, which blatantly projects itself , and subtly or not so subtly challenges the quo.

          Recently in my rural neighbourhood during elections , Falange posters were going up here and there, and it did not exactly bring a sense of serene resolution … the motto was “We have never left you ” , which somehow translated to “We are here now “. Locals ripped the posters up… it is harder still to describe how the movement does actually infiltrate into surrounding reality, but it does, it has a way of drawing in loose ends while adjusting the overall mood. Something that cannot simply be ignored, as the movement does emanate its own kind of power, one that tends to openly play hard on the definitions of fear and security. I digress a bit, and the comment is heading into an ethereal realm , but how else to describe.

  3. B says:

    Great article Don, thank you… This is not just a wake up call for Catalonia, but for all the EU. It demonstrates openly that the EU will stand beside a corrupt government for the sake of preserving unity. Instead of working toward a solution the Spanish government will push separatists to the point of open rebellion and the real crackdown will begin. All the meanwhile the EU stands by claiming, “This is an internal matter”.

    • d says:

      “This is not just a wake up call for Catalonia, but for all the EU. It demonstrates openly that the EU will stand beside a corrupt government for the sake of preserving unity.”


      This travesty of justice and blatant engineered electoral fraud by Madrid, has the potential to turn into a black swan event.

      The coming drop in GDP It must result it more pressure on Spanish banking (which is weak and HIDDEN NPL Ridden) so EU banking, which is the same, so the Eur,

      Great for German exports short term, long term, Unknown.

      As we head into the Holiday season, peopel, must start to take positions, that they will maintain, until they return 2018.

      The party of Franco, under rajoy, is playing a dangerous game. That could have/cause HUGE Global ramifications. At a bad time.

    • fajensen says:

      What should the EU do!? The EU per current design has not got much power over the nation states and no matter what the EU says on the subject it will be seen as interfering.

  4. Hiho says:

    It is said that in the last general elections Indra made disappear 1 million votes that would have gone to Podemos.

    Partido popular and ciudadanos must be looking forward to the next elections in Catalonia. They might win in the electronic count what they lose in the polls.

    • d says:

      “They might win in the electronic count what they lose in the polls.”

      Whats with the “might”.

      The Independence heads are in Jail or exile and the election is near.

      This “election” has “Fit/Set up” written all over it. Its one of the things “the party of Franco” AKA PP under rajoy. Has been angling for in its deliberately heavy handed approach to this whole matter.

      Its also a great deflection from the more than 60 major corruption issues facing the PP currently.

      The trouble will start after the election if the peopel of Catalonia are not satisfied with it.

      As Catalans like all Spaniards and Italians have the Club Med culture of “Vendetta”.

      Rajoy has a Tiger. By its tail.

      The Tiger is currently, still only grumbling about it.

  5. Rates says:

    I still don’t get this. Maybe I am just dense. There’s zero uncertainty unless the entire region is willing to fight to the death. I mean, just because you hold referendums, doesn’t mean you get what you want. The founding fathers wanted to be free as well, you think King George simply said yes?

    • MD says:

      Actually there was a lot of sympathy for American independence in the UK.

      That’s why we allowed the French to do the fighting, and take it off us for you.

      You’re welcome.

      • Kraig says:

        Also why Benjamin Franklin was given the right to representation in house of parliament.

      • d says:

        “When this war is over, we will need to trade with these peopel, they will not trade with us, if we slaughter them like cattle.”

        George Cornwallis.

        The french and Americans did NOT win the Independence event in the “Southern British American colonies”.

        If they had of, there would be no Canada.

        Slaughtering a large segment of what was a British population in America, simply to rule it, which was an option, was not the British way.


        The British Settled with them, as trade, was replacing direct force, as the driving element, in the British Empire.

        Apart from a french agitated spat in 1812 there has been no conflict between the parent and the unruly child since then, and probably never will be.

  6. Rob says:

    Can orange picking, benidorm tourism and siestas support 100% debt to gdp?

    • Michael S Goodman says:

      Cataluna could survive very nicely on its own, without the rest of Spain. The opposite is much less certain. Hence the vicious effort to squelch the separatist tendencies.

      • Rob says:

        The capitalist opp wd be turn Catalonia into a low tax state but many separatists seem to be hard leftists

  7. MD says:

    Running off to Belgium…no doubt staying 5*…

    I have to say, revolution sure ain’t what it used to be. Less barricades and pitchforks, more trappist beer and some nice choccies on the terrace.

    I’ll bet he’s sent some cutting Tweets, though. Channeling the spirit of Guevara in 140 characters.

    • Nicko2 says:

      Don’t forget the pancakes. Belgium has great waffles. ;)

    • DanR says:

      Yes, Catalonians don’t look like a tough and determined people at all from this.

    • Cynic says:

      Puigdemont’s best post was simply an image of a chess board.

      Some style, really.

      Much better than the fools who call for armed uprisings: who suffers in those, not the politicians, but ordinary innocent people……

  8. thatblackwoman says:

    puidgemont’s immediate desertion, the repeatedly delayed declaration and the lack of separatist clarity have made me wonder if the independence movement was engineered by spain and brussels.

  9. d says:

    “If the Catalans can mount an armed resistance”

    What is this IF S ^% t.

    Currently cooler heads are in ascendance in Catalonia, than Madrid.

    Nobody should be mentioning Anti Madrid Violence, and Catalonia in the same Post.

    Let alone advocating “Terrorism” against non Catalan civilian targets.

    Or for that matter any targets.

  10. g says:

    The Catalan independence movement has more implications for Europe. Some borders are crossing ethnical areas. One example is Suedtirol that belongs to Italy but the locals speak German there. I wonder how happy those people are with Italian rule.
    Inside Italy two wealthy northern provinces want more autonomy and few years back there was the Lega Lombarda that wanted autonomy or separation for northern Italy. That list could go on and on. The only example I know of where the will of the people was somewhat respected is the break-up of Czechoslovakia.
    Let people vote will challenge the status quo on many levels like borders moving,
    Otherwise the system will become openly undemocratic.

    • Cynic says:

      You got the main point, I believe.

      The Catalan separatists thought that the threat of serious economic disruption – and damage to Europe’s reputation as democratic and built on upholding human rights – would outweigh the resistance of Brussels to new secessionist states in the EU.

      They were very wrong.

      Not, in my opinion, worth 30 years or more in jail for ‘rebellion’ (and unpleasant information is emerging as to how the Catalan leaders are being treated in prison.)

      Nor the harm this all might do to ordinary people and their livelihoods, which it must be the first duty of all politicians to protect.

      • g says:

        Cynic, one side is that regular people are going to experience “the power of Spanish Democracy” the other aspect is that the whole EU shows openly as being undemocratic
        For southern Europe the current economic system is already between depression and catastrophe so the EU is going to become unattractive on that side too.

        • Cynic says:

          With what has happened in Catalonia, all the cards are on the table, Spanish and European – it’s fascinating.

          It takes a crisis to show what people are made of, and for masks to fall……

    • Michael S Goodman says:

      There is indeed a vocal movement in South Tirol for autonomy from Italy. Generally, those folks also seek union with a reunified Germany-Austria, which is, of course, problematic.

      In the Sixties, the South Tirolean separatists practiced violence, but that has now subsided.

  11. Jeremias says:

    1-Don Quijones starts the article, throwing garbage on Spanish Justice sometimes slow sometimes not.
    2-Then joke about the “sacred constitution” that according with Don Quijones,must be changed until the Catalan supremacists feel comfortable having more privileges than the other regions and the annexation of Aragon, Valencia and Zaragoza to form the Catalan countries
    3-Talk about the corruption of PP and say nothing about 3% of Convergencia i unio. In Spain everyone knows what was 3%, but WOLFSTREET readers better not to know and think that Catalan supremacist are not corrupt.

    Don Quijones every day less objective.
    You forget to talk again about Franco.

    • d says:

      “2-Then joke about the “sacred constitution” that according with Don Quijones,must be changed until the Catalan supremacists feel comfortable having more privileges than the other regions and the annexation of Aragon, Valencia and Zaragoza to form the Catalan countries”

      YOU have conveniently forgotten the INDIAN GIVING by Rajoy and the PP. When watering down the constitutional amendments previously agreed that gave Catalonia more control of its regional tax take

      This Indian giving by Rajoy and the PP (the part of Franco) is what seriously started this Catalonian mess running again.

      Yes some of the Catalan separatists are corrupt.

      They are Spanish politicians after all.

      Spain is the Grandfather of Philippine corruption, if you do not help the grease flow, you can not get elected, in either country.

      America today is not far behind.

  12. Jeremias says:

    Who should burst with a bomb is you and your motherfucker.
    Said the above with the respect you merit.

  13. jeremias says:

    “The battle cry of the independence campaign is that the rest of Spain steals Catalan taxes and wastes them on lazy southerners. Now Mr Pujol himself has been found hiding his own stash of cash.”

    • Don Quijones says:

      Jeremias, you could have read all about the Pujol scandal on Wolf Street when it broke in 2014:

      Today Jordi Pujol is not in power. He is disgraced and he should be in jail. His son, Pujol Jr, already is. The politician Pujol sr mentored, Artur Mas, has been disqualified from public office and has also been sidelined from political proceedings by the radical left party CUP.

      By contrast, Rajoy is still in power. His government is still in power. And Spanish judges have already ruled that the party he leads is guilty of receiving illicit funding — on a scale that boggles the mind. In many other European countries he would have been forced to resign.

      Also, whatever you might claim, there are serious issues about the separation of powers and judicial independence in Spain — not just according to me but according to the Spanish people themselves.

      In a comprehensive Eurobarometer survey of perceived judicial independence in the EU Spain scored sixth from last, behind Bulgaria, Slovakia, Italy, Croatia and Slovenia. 38% of those surveyed considered it “fairly bad” and 18% assessed it as “very bad”. Only 30% of respondents thought it was good or very good.

      Here’s the link:

      Last year, a report by judges and prosecutors, prepared at the request of the Council of Europe, highlighted a number of potential threats to judicial independence in Spain, including the way in which both the attorney general and the members of the General Council of the Judiciary are appointed..

      Here’s the link:

      So please, Jeremiah, spare me the accusations of bias. Not once have I come out in favour of Catalan independence. I just happen to believe the only solution to a crisis of this scale and complexity is to jaw-jaw, not war-war.

      • Cynic says:

        Very true. The father of my cousin by marriage was a highly respected judge, but it was known that he was passed over for promotion to the supreme court as he was seen as incorruptible and therefore would not give political verdicts when required to do so. DQ is on firm ground, as always!

        Mas is an interesting case: after all, he did say ‘There is no such thing as real independence in the EU’.

  14. jeremias says:

    Dear Don Quijones,
    Sure you know that in 2010 Tribunal Constitucional avoid from Estatuto Catalan some articles, among other some competences about a judicial autonomous power for catalonia region.
    Do you think that catalan justice system could be less corrupt or fast investigating Pujol and his family?Which catalan politicians would nominates judges? IMHO A bad system at small scale
    Of course Jaw-Jaw is better than war-war.We are in 2017 not 1935.
    I think you are biased ,no offense intented, may be, I am too.
    I do not hold the whole truth and you know Spain is far from perfect and needs fixes but separatist or supremacist ideas are not a solution for Spain or Europe ever.

  15. dan says:

    politicians don,t understand the situation the blame is on catalonians institutions in school in catalonia you first learn english then spanish the maps are only of catalonia before schools were respectable with real knowledge now it,s political propaganda nothing more.It,s better if the central government take over the control of the región like in france were everthing is centralized from paris to avoid all kind of problems because the economy in catalonia is really in trouble with this political situation

    • Cynic says:

      I agree with Dan that nationalists/separatists in Catalonia and the Basque Country do tend to teach utter nonsense as ‘history’. many teachers are shameless propagandists.

      They believe that any myth is acceptable so long as it gets the young committed to The Cause. As the Jesuits say: ‘Give me the child by the age of 7, and I’ll give you the man.’

      Now, who wouldn’t want to take their country back from wicked invaders, particularly when they make you poorer than you would be otherwise?

      It’s made for the young and idealistic who face a grim future in a declining economy and a purposeless culture.

      However, Spanish nationalism is also suspect, and full of Franco-ist absurdities – ‘oldest nation in Europe’ , etc.

    • Roger says:

      Yes, when Franco there was real knowledge in schools, now all the kids get manipulated. Of course the others are always to blame, manipulated and stupid. This is the kind of bullshit you constantly hear in Spanish media: Independentists are stupid and manipulated by school, local TV or whatever and they can choose right. The funny thing is when, after that, they call supremacist like Jeremias did.

  16. Cynic says:

    Crysangle: much appreciate the comments on Citizens.

    Somehow ,politics in Spain always leads on to reflections of some kind on Good and Evil. The wife of a cousin in Catalonia cried ceaselessly after the referendum,as though some terrible evil was about to befall -old memories, although she is a Gypsy, so…..

    There was a delightful advertising campaign in England years ago, for Spanish holidays. I think the translator was given ‘Spain: makes an impression!’ something like that.

    It became: ‘Spain: it really marks you!’ ;)

  17. mean chicken says:

    I always suspected the EU was a dictatorship.

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