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European Disunion
Catalonia and the Malady of Democracy

Spain’s present troubles are a reflection of the challenges facing liberal democracy throughout the West.

Published on: September 26, 2017
Ana Palacio is a member of the Spanish Council of State and is the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain.
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  • Matt_Thullen

    Half correct. Yes, people want agency over their lives, and distant central governments that are mainly run by unelected bureaucrats and judges not answerable to the electorate and taking their guidance from the mores of the educated, liberal elite aren’t providing a smidgen of the agency that people desire.

    The part that is missing is that people want to live in tighter-knit communities of like-minded individuals. They don’t want to be part of a global village, and they don’t want to be name-called into accepting large numbers of people who have different values from them and come from different cultures. They want to go back to a smaller, higher-trust social system rather than the overly legalistic culture that is necessary to transact affairs in modern, large nation-states.

  • QET

    To quote another famous Spaniard, Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that word [rationality]. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  • Angel Martin

    You could write this article for Quebec by changing the names.

    Duplessis for Franco.

    Gerard Pelletier for Serrat.

    Paul Rose for Otegi.

    • Allard Keeley

      And 1980/95 for 2014/17

  • WigWag

    Remind me again why the Albanian Muslims of Kosovo were entitled to break away from Serbia and form their own state while the people of Catalonia are not entitled to the same right.

    • PierrePendre

      The Kosovo Albanians were entitled to form their own state in what had hitherto been a province of Serbia because Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright wished to screw Milosevic to punish him for his role in the breakup of former Yugoslavia. Milosevic personally was fairly undeserving of sympathy but when Washington came after him to surrender Kosovo, he was genuinely between a rock and a hard place because Serbian public opinion was firmly in favour of keeping Kosovo Serb. He couldn’t give it up. The whole Kosovo Liberation Army pantomime and the mass movement of Kosovan civilians allegedly fleeing Serbian genocide was manufactured by the United States and the United Nations. On the other hand, it has to be said that for all their emotional attachment to Kosovo, Serbs did not want to live there and Serbian control depended entirely on the police and army.

  • PierrePendre

    Europeans are not going to gain agency over their lives so long as their governments remain committed to ceding their national sovereignty to a European Union which unites 27 very different countries with a multiplicity of languages and cultures in what it hopes to homogenise in a federal superstate. If that is to be Europe’s fate, it makes sense for regions to protect their specificity by seeking independence from the nation states of which they have historically been part. Palacio identifies a “malady of democracy”. The EU, of which I presume she’s a supporter like the rest of the Spanish political class, makes a virtue of its lack of democratic accountability. The illness she speaks of is a feature not a bug, intended to smooth the progressive ironing away of differences. The UK has opted for Brexit precisely to avoid being drawn into the federalist trap where it would have had a 1/28th voice in a sham democracy centred in Brussels. What Europeans have in common is the fact that they inhabit the same continent but they themselves come in so many different cultural varieties that they know very little about each other. What they understand correctly is that their individual identities are each year being flattened and melded in the name of an experiment which can only succeed at the expense of democracy as they have always understood it. That is the price that the Spanish elite paid when they hitched their country to the EU and it is one Catalans and others do not want to pay.

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