Talk about putting the shoe on the other foot:
“The word ‘dialogue’ is a lovely word. It creates good feelings,” [Spanish Prime Minister Mariano] Rajoy said. “But dialogue has two enemies: those who abuse, ignore and forget the laws, and those who only want to listen to themselves, who do not want to understand the other party.”
Rajoy urged the Senate to approve Article 155 “to prevent Catalonia from being abused.”
The charge that Catalan secessionists “only want to listen to themselves, . . . do not want to understand the other party” applies equally to those who would deprive Catalonia of independence. Second, the primacy assigned to the constitution and to law forgets that institutions need to serve people, not the other way around. And that, ultimately, seems to me to be a huge problem: As near as I can tell, Rajoy’s argument collapses entirely to a provision in the Spanish constitution, “which refers to ‘the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation, the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards.’” There is nothing here of any benefits for Catalans in Spain, just nonsense about how “Spain without Catalonia and vice versa is a mutilated Spain and Catalonia.” The origins of this drive for independence apparently lie in “a financial dispute [in 2012, during the financial crisis] over the tax contribution that wealthy Catalonia should make to poorer regions of Spain.”
It is already apparent from the violence waged against the referendum that Catalonia held on independence, which Rajoy defended as his “principal obligation . . . to enforce the law and ensure it is enforced,” that Rajoy has no compunctions about using violence. Despite his appeals to public opinion surveys (a methodology I now treat as unreliable) showing a majority even within Catalonia opposing independence, it is clear that Rajoy is unconcerned with what the Catalan public may think of his use of violence against the referendum. The violence itself, directed against an election, undermines the remainder of his claim that his “principal obligation” is also to “protect and guarantee democracy,” and to “protect coexistence and harmony.”
Further, it is apparent that Rajoy enjoys international backing from elites who, on various rationalizations, nearly always oppose secession, except when a secession movement in another country might work to their own advantage.
So I see no constraint on Rajoy’s further deployment of violence to achieve his ends. Catalonia is occupied territory. Now I fear it will feel the boot.