Scots and Catalans are already independent in spirit, now we must work together to reclaim our sovereignty and become independent in fact.
The similarities between the political situations in Scotland and Catalonia are striking. Both lost their sovereignty at nearly the same historical moment. Scotland got scammed out of their government in 1707 with the Act of Union, as a bribe to corrupt nobles who lost money in the Darien scheme. Barcelona fell to the Bourbon monarchy in 1714 after a bloody siege. Both were deprived of their independence illegitimately.
Both are parts of historically corrupt, brutal monarchies (is there any other kind?), and formerly vicious but crumbling empires. Scotland and Catalonia are among their last colonies, and must assert their independence in spite of fierce resistance.
Governance over Scotland and Catalonia is democratically illegitimate. In the case of Scotland, the Westminster Tories have control over Scotland’s resources, even though there is only one Tory Scottish MP. In Catalonia, many important laws have been passed by the Catalan Parliament, only to be overturned by the Spanish Constitutional Tribunal, including banning housing evictions and providing energy assistance to the poor.
Both are nearly powerless to stop repressive government policy. The reforms of Iain Duncan Smith are literally killing people, as privatized ‘fit for work’ assessments and benefit sanctions are driving many to suicide. For Catalonia, their language and therefore culture is consistently interfered with through court cases which are detrimental to the integrity and teaching of the Catalan language, overturning policy adopted in Catalonia.
The only way for Scotland and Catalonia to become proud, independent, sovereign nations is to work together, coordinating on independence and constitutional issues, and building modern, effective state institutions.
If we don’t, who will? If not now, when? Future generations depend on us.
If the UK and Spanish governments can work together to thwart Scottish and Catalan independence, then we can certainly work together to achieve it.
We have so much to share and learn from each other. Scotland showed Catalonia that a referendum was possible and legal. Since the Spanish government has not allowed Catalonia to hold a legally binding referendum, and Westminster has thus far refused to countenance a second referendum, Catalonia has shown Scotland that a plebiscitary election is a democratically legitimate means to achieve independence.
A framework for a possible agreement is the following.
The SNP manifesto shall include a commitment to hold an independence referendum on the 11 September 2017, on the same day that Catalonia would hold constituent elections to ratify independence, and possibly the constitution. Securing an SNP majority in the May elections shall begin the process of achieving independence on September 11, 2017.
This would place Catalonia and Scotland at a similar stage: committed to securing full independence on a specific date.
Catalan and Scottish citizens, civic institutions, and governments agree:
– To be the first states to mutually recognize each other as independent states on September 11, 2017.
– To commit to establishing independent secular republics, whose sole basis of legitimacy is popular sovereignty, thus abolishing monarchies as heads of state, as well as banning recognition of aristocratic and noble titles.
– To share expertise on building and transferring state institutions.
– To construct modern, electronic, corruption-proof voting systems, in time for the referenda on September 11, 2017, to assure that the popular will is expressed as accurately as possible.
– To work together to develop written constitutions, sharing expertise and insight, seeking input from the Venice commission and international experts.
– To jointly control and organize the respective referendums, overseen by the Council of Europe to assure democratic integrity.
– To work together to achieve seamless membership in the European Union. If Scotland and Catalonia are excluded from the EU, both agree to work to develop other arrangements, including potential membership in the EFTA, and/or the development of a more democratic alternative to the EU.
– To work together to mitigate interference from the Spanish government, the UK government, and the EU in implementing this agreement.
– To achieve a maximum amount of progress on these issues before the referenda, so citizens will know the nature of the state they are voting for to the clearest possible degree.
This proposal enumerates several areas of potential cooperation, but there will undoubtedly be more unforeseen areas once the process begins in earnest. However, the only way that this proposal can be implemented is to achieve broad popular support among the Scottish and Catalan peoples, and for them to direct their elected representatives to enact it.
If Catalonia and Scotland are finally to become true democracies, this is how it must function.
There is already an embryo of cooperation between Scotland and Catalonia, which democracy in both nations must nurture for independent states to come to fruition.
Dr. Mark McNaught is a visiting professor at the University of Barcelona Law School, and has worked extensively on both the Scottish and Catalan independence process.