The Pre-Aftermath

"Results" from the Catalonian referendum are in. Der Spiegel reports:

[Nach katalanischen Behörden] beteiligten sich rund 2,26 Millionen Menschen an der Abstimmung, dies entspreche 42,3 Prozent der wahlberechtigten Katalanen. 90 Prozent votierten für eine Abspaltung. ([According to Catalonian authorities] about 2.26 million people participated in the vote, accounting for 42.3% of eligible Catalonian voters. 90% voted for separation.)

In other words, it "passed" with 38%. Which is pretty much in line with what polls have been predicting all summer anyway. It fluctuates a lot in response to events, but recently support for independence has been at about 41%. So, if you figure that almost all the people who don’t support independence stayed home, and almost all the people who do voted, and some of those who tried to vote were denied, you come up with … probably around 41% support today too.

In case it wasn’t already clear what we’re dealing with:

Schon vor Bekanntgabe der Ergebnisse hatte Kataloniens Regierungschef Carles Puigdemont die Loslösung der Region von Spanien eingefordert: "Wir haben das Recht gewonnen, einen unabhängigen Staat zu haben." (Catalonia’s prime minister had already called for a release of the region from Spain before the announcement of the results: "We have earned the right to have an independent state.")

The man is a criminal. 38% in an illegitimate, disrupted, underrepresentative referendum means exactly shit – and he didn’t even wait for that.

All this should do for anyone is solidify the obvious opinions:

One – That the Spanish central government snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on this by overreacting. If you’re letting a childish rabble-rouser like Puigdemont set the narrative, you’re incompetent, and you need to step aside and let someone qualified do your job instead.

Two – That despite their inept handling of the situation, the Spanish government is on the right side of this. The Catalonian regime is a farce, and Puigdemont needs to be removed from office immediately.

From here, a lot depends on how the international community reacts – especially the EU. No one rational can consider this vote a mandate for independence, but the images of the Guarda Civil firing rubber bullets into crowds and beating people with batons will have earned some sympathy for the cause. If the EU comes down clearly on Spain’s side, I guess that will be the end of it. If they hedge at all, the situation will get worse, as Catalonian separatists will see it as an endorsement of the idea that Spain needs to change course and as offering hope that a future independent Catalonia could be an EU member in good standing.

All else equal, I would say that despite what you’re reading in today’s idiotic headlines, Spain would come out on top of this. But that depends on Rajoy learning how to be magnanimous, and he won’t. So, who’s to say?

The overall point is that there’s a lot of this disease going around these days: issues that shouldn’t be dramatic, but are anyway. I really wish the Spanish government had gotten some better advice on this.

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