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Al Masnou Decidim [ Monday, 07 Dec 09 | 12:08 ]
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[My Location |El Masnou (Barcelona) España]
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At El Masnou We Decide

Consulta sobre la independència de Catalunya

Consultation about the independence of Catalunya.

Last Friday as I was returning home on the Renfe Rodalies train, I was given a flyer about an upcoming “vote” regarding the independence of Catalunya, the “autonomous community” in which I live. The vote is on Sunday, 13 of December and anyone who is at least 16 years-old and has some sort of identification to prove that they live in El Masnou is able to participate. (I have a “targeta de residència” and “certifcat d’empadronament”.) So this is the first time I have been available to vote after living here for almost five years, even though this is not real vote, just a referendum.

(Under US law, a citizen, even expatriates, are allowed to vote in “federal” elections such as last year’s presidential election.)

The flyer claims that there will be international observers and accredited press attending. One can vote “SÍ”,“NO”, or in “Blanc” (blank ballot), “without political distortions or manipulations”. It is very common here that one can cast a blank ballot (also called “none of the above”). In regular political elections, the “blanks” often receive more votes (about 5%) than a number of political parties.

After Franco's death in 1975 and the adoption of a democratic constitution in Spain in 1978, Catalunya recovered, and extended, the powers that it had gained in the statute of autonomy of 1932, but lost with the fall of the Second Spanish Republic at the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939.

The region has gradually achieved more autonomy since 1979. The Generalitat holds exclusive jurisdiction in culture, environment, communications, transportation, commerce, public safety and local government, and shares jurisdiction with the Spanish government in education, health and justice.

There is some nationalist sentiment present in a part of the population of Catalonia, which ranges from the desire for independence from Spain expressed by Catalan separatists, to a more generic demand for further autonomy. Some non-binding referendums with local character, asking the population whether or not they want to achieve independence, are currently being undertaken. A couple of months ago there was a similar referendum held in Arenys de Mar, also located in the comarca of Maresme about 25 km from El Masnou.


[User Picture]From: double_ohsteven
Monday, 07 Dec 09 | 17:42 (UTC)
What would you prefer? If they become a separate country, will gays still be able to marry? Or is it just some more self-governing powers they are after but still be part of Spain?
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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Friday, 15 Jan 10 | 15:50 (UTC)

Sorry for taking so long to comment…

I voted "NO". There are a range of sentiments on this issue. On one far end, proponents want to re-create the Catalan empire that existed before the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). This includes Valencia, the Balearic Islands, and a part of Southern France. Barcelona would serve as the capital. Of course none of these other territories want to have anything to do with the Catalans despite similar linguistic and cultural ties.

There is the complaint that they don't have enough "home rule" and that the central government gives more money to poor areas than gives back to rich areas (read: Catalunya.) The same is true for a number of States in the US, but I don't hear of any State threatening to secede from the Union over this issue.

In terms of "locals know better", I haven't seen much evidence of that. There is just as much local corruption as elsewhere. Bad local decisions or "deals" have been made which were probably the result of "money changing hands."

Who knows what laws an independent state would have. Currently Catalunya is ruled by a left-center tripartite. But for more than 20 years after the Franco dictatorship conservatives were in power and indeed CiU is the largest single political party here.

The part I don't like is the "ultra nationalist" sentiment that is sometimes displayed. People I know think that Spanish should be forbidden and only Catalán allowed. That would be a disaster for people growing up here and seeking jobs elsewhere. The current situation is that Spanish and Catalán are co-official languages. English is a third language. That choice seems practical to me. It seems that nearly everyone is bi-lingual and they intermix languages when they speak.

Another person I know refused to see a musical (Sweeny Todd) here because it was sung in Spanish and not Catalan. We both know the lead in the musical (and he is pro-Catalanism). When I ran into the actor, I asked about this "controversy" and he said that a Catalan version did not exist. I view it as a marketing issue. There just isn't enough of a market to convert everything to Catalan. And besides most of the target market is bi-lingual. And the actor has to eat, after all. (He also dubs movies in Spanish. He always dubs Morgan Freeman, for example.)

Ruben's family has been here for several generations although his ancestors on his father's side are from Mallorca. (His surname is considered "Hebrew", but I kid him that it could just as well be Arabic since "shalom" means the same as "salaam". Ruben's last name is "Salam".) Ruben is not so concerned about independence and agrees with me that some of the political positions are not realistic. He would say it's just "politics".

As an on-going problem, the right-wing Spanish party ("PP") scapegoats and stigmatizes Catalunya. They follow the same "game book" as the GOP in the US. They are against the self-governing Statute that was approved here several years ago and have been fighting it in the Constitutional Court. So I understand the frustration that "reasonable" people have and that this might drive them to take extreme positions.

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