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Mon Dec 24, 2012, 07:49 AM

Mas Sworn in as Catalan President, Starting Independence Battle

Source: Reuters

Artur Mas, who has pledged to seek independence for Catalonia, was sworn in as president of the region, paving the way for a battle over autonomy with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

“Let’s remember that in the history of nations, the big changes have almost always happened at very difficult times and against the tide,” Mas said at a ceremony in Barcelona today. “We are all protagonists of a unique moment in our history.”

Mas will govern with the support of the Catalan Republican Left after falling short of a majority in elections last month. As part of his deal with the separatists, Mas pledged to be ready for an independence referendum in 2014.

Rajoy’s government in Madrid says any popular vote on independence for Spain’s biggest regional economy would be unconstitutional, and it would use legal measures to stop it. Asked whether he would try to disqualify Mas from governing or suspend the region’s autonomous status, Rajoy declined to comment in an interview published today by El Mundo. Everyone is “subject to the law,” he said.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-24/mas-sworn-in-as-catalan-president-starting-independence-battle.html

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Reply Mas Sworn in as Catalan President, Starting Independence Battle (Original post)
Redfairen Dec 2012 OP
DFW Dec 2012 #1
Igel Dec 2012 #2

Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 09:23 AM

1. This could be the start of a big mess. As one who loves Barcelona, I sure hope not

I spent part of my teenage years there and speak Catalan. Although a strong supporter of Catalan autonomy, I fear what a full separation from Spain might mean.

As bad as the rest of Spain's economy is now, an independent Catalunya that is part of the EU would drown in economic refugees from northern Africa as well as from the rest of Spain, and have an economy that could never handle the influx. Hell, they can barely handle what they have now. When Franco died, they regained their right to have their language and culture back. Unless Madrid unwisely starts to milk Catalunya dry economically, I would go very slowly on the independence idea.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 11:01 AM

2. The big chances were almost always at difficult times and against the tide?

Well, at difficult times. But usually entropy won.

Building a nation usually requires a lot of little steps over time. We only notice when they're suddenly consolidated--but even German or Italian unification was preceded by a century of baby steps in that direction.

The big changes that happen quickly are usually with the tide. The rising tide of authoritarian regimes in response to crises in the '20s and '30s, whether the extreme centralization of power in Italy, Germany, Russia, or even the less extreme but still radical centralization of authority in the US. The collapse of the USSR was "with the tide," and even the big changes in China in the last 20 years have been a response to that tide.

The changes in the US in the mid-late 1700s were part and parcel with the events that resulted from the Enlightenment. The "difficult times" resulted from a lot of small changes against the tide. The most significant changes occurred during easy times, with other important changes at easy times.

Currently the European continent has two trends going on at the same time: A centralization of authority that saps the nation-states of their importance and a devolution of authority from the nation-states down to regions. The current crisis has weakened the first trend, but shaking the nation-state governments hasn't hurt the second trend. Mas benefits from long-term trends that are "with the tide." But there's nothing brave and ego-building in being washed down-stream, and if anything politicians always need to believe they're seen as brave and to engage in serious ego-building. "Cogito, ego sum."

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