12:05 GMT +318 December 2017
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    Catalonia: Democracy or Demagoguery?

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    Andrew Korybko
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    The independence referendum in Catalonia has drawn praise from supporters who laud its direct democracy approach to deciding the region's future, while critics have slammed it for being an exercise in demagogic stagecraft.

    Some observers described the vote as representing the "Battle of Barcelona", and civil war-era imagery and slogans have become a popular way of describing the latest events. Many supporters of Catalan independence, both within the region and abroad, decried Madrid for resorting to what they said were "fascist" tactics in suppressing their vote, while the defenders of a unified Spanish state and the country's constitution said that the activists are illegal separatists intent on destroying the country. The vote itself took place amid a police crackdown as the central authorities worked to enforce a court order declaring the poll unconstitutional, and the resulting violence injured at least 800 people.

    Advocates of an independent Catalonia said that the Spanish state ceded its sovereignty on that day and no longer has any legitimate right to govern the region, while many other Spaniards disagreed with that assessment and said that the separatists were brainwashing children and using human shields to promote their political agenda. In a nutshell, the main disagreement between the two sides comes down to Barcelona saying that the independence referendum was a legitimate expression of the people's democratic will, while Madrid decries it as a highly publicized show of demagoguery meant to mislead the domestic and international masses.

    Because of the global attention that was drawn to the vote and its crackdown, the issue of Catalonia is increasingly becoming an international one as the Barcelona authorities plead for foreign mediation in separating from Spain. Madrid wants to of course keep this as a purely domestic affair, but that's becoming much more difficult now that the Catalan separatists have obtained such tremendous soft power support from Alternative Media sectors. Spain might want this to remain an "in-house" problem, but the "house" itself is broadening from that of the nominal Kingdom to the so-called "European Home" as a whole. The "Battle of Barcelona" might have started last Sunday, but it owes its roots to long-standing issues from decades ago, and the political conflict over the future of Catalonia seems to still be far away from being resolved anytime soon.

    Andrew Korybko is joined by Roberto Ávila, activist and representative in Serbia of the Spanish humanitarian organization "Solidaridad Kosovo España", and Josep Goded, Catalan independent journalist currently covering the conflict between Catalonia and Spain in the aftermath of the binding referendum held on Oct 1st.

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    Tags:
    constitution, independence referendum, Catalonia Independence Referendum, Catalonia, Spain
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