Two views in the US media on Spain’s attitude towards the Catalan referendum

Catalan MonitorNews Roundup


Two renowned US publications yesterday devoted opinion pieces to the Catalan process towards the referendum. Both articles focused on the attitudes that the Spanish government is showing on the matter.

Revealingly, Professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and associate director of its Center for Constitutional Democracy Timothy William Waters subtitles his article on The New York Times “What Spain Can Learn From Scotland’s Referendum.” Talking about threats by Spain to block the vote, Waters writes:

The New York Times | How to Handle Secession The contrast with Britain could not be greater: Spain’s government has rejected Catalonia’s referendum, preparing to bring a case before the Spanish Constitutional Court to block the vote — it’s clear a regional referendum violates the Spanish Constitution — and even threatening to suspend the Catalonian regional government’s authority. But that dismissive attitude has only inflamed Catalan sentiment.

Allowing secession doesn’t have to lead to an atavistic, primeval flight for the nationalist exits and a steeping of blood; it does let more human beings fashion their own future — to choose to stay, or to go, but to choose for themselves, not as minorities, but as a people.

Interestingly, The New Republic Editorial Assistant Elaine Teng’s article is headlined as if it directly intended to follow up on Waters’s subtitle:

The New Republic | Spain is Learning All the Wrong Lessons from Scotland’s Referendum If he did choose to confront the problem head on, Rajoy might take solace in the Scottish situation. If Scotland taught the world anything last week, it’s that allowing people to vote—and 84.5 percent of Scotland’s eligible voters did so—does not mean they will choose independence.

But the Spanish government doesn’t seem to understand. Instead of listening to popular opinion, Rajoy prefers to hide behind constitutional language. Rajoy has sworn that he will “uphold the constitution and the law” and that “any discussion or debate on this is out of the question.” He’s terrified that a referendum would tear the nation, and its relatively young democracy, apart. But by denying his people the opportunity to exercise their democratic rights, he’s only making the situation worse.