Good Practice on Referendums

Catalan MonitorArticles

Having gone through the Venice Commission’s “Code of good practice on referendums“, I have a number of queries.


Is it good practice for Spain, a country that is party to several UN international covenants on human rights, to ignore the right of all peoples to their self-determination – and specifically that of the Catalans – by citing the “sacred” (in the words of none other than prime minister Rajoy) unity of Spain?


Is it good practice for Spain to turn down as many as eighteen requests for a binding referendum to be held in Catalonia, without offering a single political solution to the conflict arising out of the 2010 Constitutional court judgment that maimed Catalonia’s 2006 Statute of Autonomy?


Is it good practice to use the Council of State and the Constitutional court at weekends and during their holidays in order to block Catalan initiatives, while other decisions take up to five years?


Is it good practice for Spain to bar Catalan politicians from public office (former president Mas, and former ministers Homs, Rigau and Ortega) for inviting the Catalan to express its non-binding opinion on the political future of Catalonia at the ballot box on November 9 2014,


Is it good practice for the Office of the Prosecutor of the Court of Auditors to press charges of embezzlement against Catalan politicians (Mas, Homs, Rigau and Ortega) for the €5 million cost of the 9 November poll, to get them to return this money out of their own pockets, or go to prison?


Is it good practice for Spain to press criminal charges against the Parliament bureau (Speaker Forcadell, and members Simó, Barrufet, Coromines and Nuet) for allowing a debate on independence despite a Constitutional court injunction of highly debatable democratic legitimacy?


Is it good practice for Spain to arrest a pro-indy local councillor for saying that to make an omelette you have to break the eggs, and for the prosecutors to claim this was a justification of violence?


Is it good practice for Spain’s prosecutors to remain silent when recordings revealing the Interior’s ministers instructions (given in his office) to destroy Catalan proindy politicians using fabricated police reports (such as the former Mayor of Barcelona Xavier Trias or former president Artur Mas), and the partisan use of the prosecutors themselves, were made public?


Is it good practice for Spain to ensure that those accepting the Catalans’ right to secede are barred from media chat shows, while opponents are given free rein to insult, lie and manipulate, whipping up hatred against the Catalan people with impunity?


Is it good practice for Spain to leak to the media false police reports incriminating Catalan pro-indy politicians just days before elections?


Is it good practice for Spain to have invalidated (in 2010) the last referendum in Catalonia (2006) thanks to the Constitutional court judgment that hacked away part of the Statute of Autonomy that the referendum had purportedly ratified, thus creating an unconstitutional limbo (an autonomous Community whose (resulting) basic legal text has not been ratified?


If the Code says nothing about such practices, could the Venice Commission take a public stance before Spain carries out its threats, please? Quite honestly, unless it can be held back, Spain will act unilaterally to confound Catalonia’s 1 October referendum, completely ignoring your Code by arguing that the referendum is «illegal».


Over and above Spain’s pathetic denial of Catalonia’s right to decide, the Catalans have a more essential right: to survive.


Miquel Strubell