Hoping for a peaceful democratic process in Catalonia tomorrow. When democracy fails there’s only repression. Thinking of my Catalan friends
That is a tweet from Pete Wishart, Scottish MP; I ‘ve seen dozens more like it. But is it the democratic process behind the Catalonian referendum? Or is it rather a form of electoral terrorism? Here are a few points:
1. Most countries we consider to be democracies have rather stringent restrictions on when referenda may be held and what they may be used to decide.
2. According to extant reports, only 40 percent or so of the people in Catalonia favor independence. It’s not like Kurdistan where independence won almost 100 percent of the vote and not only because of selective participation.
3. Aren’t non-official referendum results always going to be slanted in favor of intense minority opinion? That hardly seems democratic. See #2. Arguably the same is true for official referenda as well, though then at least turnout is more representative. Nonetheless referenda on such big questions may under-represent the interests of the young or the interests of business (and in turn real wages), or they may favor expressive voting too much.
4. Isn’t the truly democratic procedure to let all of Spain vote on Catalonian independence? Maybe you don’t think so, but that begs the question.
5. Is it a fundamental democratic principle that any geographic region can demand a binding separatist referendum? Well, maybe, but it sounds closer to John C. Calhoun than the notions of democracy I am familiar with or would favor.
Overall, I don’t see any positive news in how this is developing. Arguably the situation remains in flux, but still the word is that a unilateral declaration of independence will be forthcoming.