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WILL SPAIN adopt the LINCOLN METHOD to solve its INDEPENDENCE CRISIS?

There’s a fascinating article from the BBC about how the Catalonian region of Spain (Barcelona is the capital of this autonomous region and it was the last section of Spain to surrender to Franco in the Spanish Civil War) wants to be an independent nation.  But Spain is trying to block it:

The Spanish government has vowed to block plans by parties in Catalonia to hold a referendum on independence on 9 November of next year.

“The poll will not be held,” Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon told journalists moments after Catalonia’s President, Artur Mas, announced a deal.

The BBC is reporting that both major (Read pro-EU Tweedledee-Tweedledum parties) are seeking to prevent any sort of independence referendum:

Under the current Spanish constitution, referendums can only be called by the national government in Madrid, not by the governments of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities, of which Catalonia is one, the BBC’s Tom Burridge reports from Madrid.

It apparently violates the Spanish Constitution to have a regional referendum but the regional leader of Catalonia, Artur Mas says he’ll then turn the 2016 regional elections into a de facto referendum on independence.  Mas also has stated that he reserves the right to seek independence unilaterally (UDI) if there is no other legal means to secede and the people want independence.

So, will the central government in Madrid go to war over this UDI?  I doubt it.  But my point is:  It’s similar to what Lincoln did in resupplying Fort Sumter in the face of legal secession.  I hate to cite Wikipedia, but here is how the Confederate States voted to declare independence.  All the states (including apparently Missouri and arguably Kentucky, too) voted in some legal manner to leave the Union and seek independence:

State Passed Referendum Vote
S. Carolina December 20, 1860.[1]
Mississippi January 9, 1861.[2]
Florida January 10, 1861.[3]
Alabama January 11, 1861.[4]
Georgia January 19, 1861.[5]
Louisiana January 26, 1861.[6]
Texas February 1, 1861.[7] February 23 46,153-14,747
Virginia April 17, 1861.[8] May 23 132,201-37,451
Arkansas May 6, 1861.[9]
Tennessee May 6, 1861.[10] June 8 104,471-47,183
N. Carolina May 20, 1861.[11]
Missouri October 31, 1861.[12]
Kentucky November 20, 1861.[13]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note:  Three states, including Virginia, voted in referenda to secede.

Now, we have to restate three important truths:

  1. Secession is almost always foolish and Southern secession was especially so!
  2. The South seceded to preserve slavery and white supremacy and that’s a terrible reason to start a nation.
  3. The nation is probably better off staying together and we are better for staying together.

BUT I cannot justify force to hold the Union together when and thus I cannot agree that Lincoln was right to threaten and use force to preserve the Union and especially in the manner the Union forces reconquered the Southern states.  Lincoln also suppressed dissent in the North.  If the war was not constitutional, than he had no right to do that.  Lincoln also pushed the first Federal income tax!  That was actually ruled unconstitutional later by the Supreme Court.

What the Spanish government and its leaders ought to do is allow the referendum but try to show people that they are better off staying in Spain.  Shared history and language.  Brothers and sisters together.  Shared currency, a stable government, and constitution/laws.  But the Lincoln method is not an option.  Not anymore.

 


About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written seven scholarly legal articles and was an adjunct at T. C. Williams School of Law. (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

19 Responses to “WILL SPAIN adopt the LINCOLN METHOD to solve its INDEPENDENCE CRISIS?”

  1. Miquel says:

    A good article, I just have to correct one thing: Catalonia and Spain don’t share the same language. Catalan and spanish are different languages, the first one much more close to the mediterranean latin languages (occitan in south France and italian are the languages more close to catalan) than to spanish and the other atlanthic latin languages, like portuguese or french.

    And about the history, Catalonia is inside Spain not by his free will, but because Catalonia was conquered by Castilla (actual Spain) at 1714, after a bloody war. From then, catalans have struggled to recover our liberty.

    • Thanks Miquel for your historical info – I stand corrected. Perhaps the Catalan people will have the peaceful right to decide their own fate unlike what happened in the USA.

      Thanks again for coming by and Virginia Right does have the opportunity to guest blog here.

      Sandy

    • Boris says:

      As it is often the case things are not so epic and simple. Catalonia was not conquered by Castile in 1714. That war was the succession war between two candidates to the crown of Spain of which Catalonia had been a territory since it was stablished in the mid 15th century by dinastic union rather than conquer (The early kings of Spain just inherited the rank of Count of Barcelona, they didn’t have to fight for it). Only catalan nationalist (and not all of them) hold the view of the 1714 succession as an invasion by a foreign power. However they fail to explain why the catalan local authorities had been swearing loyalty to every spanish king for centuries before the 1714 events.

      • Saim Dušan Inayatullah says:

        Boris, before the War of Succession Spain was not a single kingdom – it was just a shared monarchy. The result of this war was the disappearence of the political institutions of the various territories of the Crown of Aragon (Catalonia, Valencia, Balearics and Aragon), making Spain into a centralised monarchy rather than just a dynastic union.

        • Thanks for coming back Saim and coming Boris and our readers are learning about the history and issues with Catalonia.

          Would Saim and/or others write a short (300-600 words) about the issues here as a special blog entry? Also how do we get people in Catalonia to read our blog?

          Thanks again, Sandy

  2. Saim Dušan Inayatullah says:

    I live in Catalonia and concur with Miquel’s judgement on the language issue (that Catalan’s speak a language that is not Spanish) – although I would point out that he’s got the philology a bit off (Catalan is definitely closer to Provençal/Occitan than to Spanish, but it’s still closer to Spanish than to Italian – Italian comes from a whole other branch of Romance languages along with Corsican, Neapolitan and Sicilian).

    Furthermore, I think it’d be good to keep in mind that Catalonia probably will still share a currency with Spain if it secedes. It’d be strange if after putting in so much effort to keep Greece in the Eurozone they kicked out one of the economic powerhouses of Southern Europe.

    Also, it’s funny you would mention constitution/laws. The Spanish unionists who are against the holding of the referendum actually call themselves “constitutionalists” because according to the Spanish Constitution “the sovereignty of the Spanish State resides in the Spanish people”. The interpretation drawn from that by the unionists is that any self-determination referendum would have to be held throughout Spain.

    I’m a leftist and I’m not the biggest fan of the southern-US secession movement, but I agree with you they have the right to it and I understand their critique of Lincoln. Anyway, kudos on the article, Catalonia is not talked about a whole lot outside of Spain; I feel like the world will be in for quite the shock in a couple of years when it becomes independent (very likely at the moment).

    • Thanks to Saim Dušan Inayatullah for coming by and offering this viewpoint. A person does not have to agree with the WISDOM of Southern secession (I would have tried to persuade my fellows to stay in the Union) but the LEGALITY of Southern secession should be unquestioned and if you believe that, you cannot believe Lincoln is a hero (A bit embarrassing when Lincoln is one of the giants of the Republican Party!) or that a bloody war and reconstruction was necessarily or desirable or that liberties and constitutional provisions were curtailed such as the first income tax that was ruled later unconstitutional.

      I wonder if someone wants to write a bit about Catalonia becoming independent and the background for this blog.

      Sandy

      • Candide says:

        You might want to check out my blog on this issue, cataloniawatch.blogspot.com.

        As a little appetizer, here’s a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQnTeYmwwHo

        • Sandy Sanders says:

          I assume you are anti-independence but my Spanish is very poor! Feel free to post my entries if you choose.

          Thanks, Candide for coming by.

          Sandy

          • Candide says:

            Oh, I should have pointed out that most of the entries on my blog are in English. Only lately I am writing more in Spanish.

            I am not anti-independence per se. I see the Catalan separatist movement as quite undemocratic.

        • Sandy Sanders says:

          It is a clever video. The question raised by this video is: Would Catalan independence destabilize Spain, France and possibly Italy, too? An important question.

          But these things must be solved peacefully.

          Sandy

  3. Andy Ellis says:

    The debate on Catalan self-determination is an interesting one, particularly when viewed in conjunction with the upcoming referendum in Scotland in September 2014. Prior to the “Edinburgh Agreement” between the UK government in Westminster and the Scottish government in Holyrood, a very similar debate was taking place in Scotland, about whether it was “legal” for the SNP government to proceed with a referendum at all. In a sense, the question was dodged, because unlike the Spanish government, the UK government blinked and “legalised” the referendum.

    Whilst the Scottish and Catalan situations are not identical, it should be borne in mind that many Scots (including myself) did not accept that the permission of the UK government was required. The right of a people like the Scots or the Catalans to self-determination is not in the gift of London or Madrid. The SNP led Scottish government was elected in 2010 on a platform of holding an independence referendum, and that is what will happen. Although the currently polls suggest a No vote, it could be a close run thing, and a Yes vote is certainly feasible.

    In Catalonia a large majority of the population now seen to be in favour of independence. Whether the Spanish government can maintain the profoundly anti-democratic position that the Spanish constitution somehow trumps the legitimate desire for self determination by the Catalan people remains to be seen. It is hard to see how Spain would be able to count on any support for forcibly preventing a referendum being held, except perhaps from other countries facing secessionist movements or minority problems like Serbia, Slovakia, Romania, Cyprus etc.

    With luck, wiser heads in Madrid will prevail. If not, I and many other like minded supporters of self determination, would fully support Catalonia holding plebiscitary elections and declaring independence unilaterally, as might have been necessary if the UK government had tried the same regressive policy.

    In the end, it is vanishingly unlikely Spain would adopt the Lincoln method: the EU would be unlikely to tolerate such action for a start, and given the current perilous state of the Spanish economy they can’t afford to bite the had that feeds them.

  4. Joan says:

    I am Catalan and Spanish, like the majority of Catalans. It is not true that Catalonia was the last region to surrender to Franco. The last region was Madrid. In Catalonia there are two languages, and the language with more speakers is Spanish.

  5. Gat Negre says:

    Thanks for your interest, “Sandy”. And thanks for dismissing the Lincoln’s way (the using of violence). My opinion is that independence of Catalonia will occur soon, and it will not destabilize anything but the spanish politics. Catalonia will be there as a part of Europe, just with different status, more in accordance to what this nations deserves. Independence, at least in the case of Catalans, is a human right’s issue: the natural necessity of a distinct cultural community have their own laws and constitutions. Actually, Catalonia today is a region of Spain, but during 7 centuries until 1714 it used to be a free state of the Aragon Crown (known officially as “The Principality of Catalonia”), having its 100% own constitutions, its own legislative, judicial and executive powers. Please, let me provide you with a document concerning the history of the Principality of Catalonia. It is written in catalan language, but you’ll not have major difficulties to understand it by using google translation. Here comes the link to download the document: https://www.dropbox.com/s/uon8gayjyeksyym/HISTÒRIA%20DEL%20PRINCIPAT%20DE%20CATALUNYA.pdf?n=9454114

  6. Gat Negre says:

    Thanks for your interest, “Sandy”. And thanks for dismissing the Lincoln’s way (the using of violence). My opinion is that independence of Catalonia will occur soon, and it will not destabilize anything but the spanish politics. Catalonia will be there as a part of Europe, just with different status, more in accordance to what this nation deserves. Independence, at least in the case of Catalans, is a human right’s issue: the natural necessity of a distinct cultural community have their own laws and constitutions. Actually, Catalonia today is a region of Spain, but during 7 centuries until 1714 it used to be a free state of the Aragon Crown (known officially as “The Principality of Catalonia”), having its 100% own constitutions, its own legislative, judicial and executive powers. Please, let me provide you with a document concerning the history of the Principality of Catalonia. It is written in catalan language, but you’ll not have major difficulties to understand it by using google translation. Here comes the link to download the document: https://www.dropbox.com/s/uon8gayjyeksyym/HISTÒRIA%20DEL%20PRINCIPAT%20DE%20CATALUNYA.pdf?n=9454114

  7. Gat Negre says:

    Often (not always, but unfortunately very often) history is an issue controlled by the inheritors of the violents. Nowadays our duty is to distinguish between the political evolutions that come from peaceful agreements (sometimes they exist), that is, treaties between two or more human communities, and these ones coming from imposition by violence. That is the case of Catalonia, the Basque country, etc. and for what you say it seems to be the case of the independence war in the USA too. For me when a politician uses violence to assure some political situation which otherwise could not be reached, this person is nothing else than a dictator (I don’t give a damn about his name or his reputation). See you!

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