Let the Catalans decide: Condemn the attack on Catalonian democracy

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In a small corner of Spain, modern democracy is at stake. The democratic values that I was brought up with in the UK, that it is the people, together, who decide their future, were today quashed by the Spanish state. 

I now live in Barcelona and I cannot understand what type of democracy it is that we celebrate here in Spain. The Catalan government stood with a single policy issue in their manifesto in 2015 - to hold a referendum over independence. As the ruling government they not only had the mandate to call it, but the obligation. Two years later, after years of trying to negotiate with Spain to hold a recognised referendum, (to which the central government has refused to discuss), the democratically elected Catalan government decided to go it alone. Despite the soundbites of the Spanish central government, this referendum was legal under international law. See https://player.fm/series/talking-politics/catalonia for a justification of this. 

We have since seen the pictures of the central government's belated intervention, and their negotiating strategy, using the batons and rubber bullets of armoured police against peaceful, unarmed citizens. 

Anyone that lives in Catalonia will have seen the queues of people trying to vote that day. There cannot be any doubt that the people here want to be heard. The central government was previously not interested in listening. Today, they announced their plan to silence that voice.

Democracy is messy. Sometimes when we ask the citizens what they want, they give an answer we did not expect or we did not want to hear. If Catalonia were to become independent it would create a challenge for all of us living here and across Europe.

But the alternative means to turn the other way when democracy is at risk. A selective democracy, where we only allow it when we are sure we will hear what we want to hear, is not democracy. 

The Spanish central government's unilateral decision to take control of a democratically elected body, that has tried to fulfill the mandate they were given two years ago in free and fair elections, is not democracy.

Imprisoning civil society voices that are leading the debate, is not democracy.

The refusal to negotiate with the elected representatives of Catalonia is not democracy. It all reflects the negotiated "democracy" of what, until 40 years ago, was a brutal dictatorship.

We in the UK, reflected by the core values of the the European Union, believe in democracy, and the people's right to self-determination. That is what I was brought up to believe. 

I ask all of you who agree with this ideal to sign up to this petition and demand that your elected representaives do all they can to condemn this attack on democracy and allow the Catalan people to have their voices heard.

 



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