A student asked me, are you worried? I said, no, there will be no violence.
Spain’s central government has made a tactical error in calling in the Civil Guard to prevent voting on the independence referendum October 1.
The polls are located in schools where children are staying overnight with their parents to ensure that the polls stay open. Madrid has ordered the Catalan police to close the polls without force. I do not believe there will be violence against the families camped out at the polls.
Yet pro-Spain vandals have destroyed at least one poll, and painted nationalist graffiti on the place to call for unity.
What is nationalism? It is a narrow definition of who belongs and who does not. This is what makes me worry, and not just for Spain.
The referendum vote is illegal because Spain’s constitution prohibits the separation of the country’s seventeen autonomous communities. They are called autonomous communities, or “autonomías, to respect each autonomony’s identity(ies), whether cultural or economic. This policy of pluralism is the glue that holds Spain together.
Calls for unity are tricky in this context. Yes, Spain is united but it is also diverse. It is also democratic.
Pro-independence Catalans shout that Madrid does not respect democracy.
I believe Madrid does respect democracy, especially the king, but sending security forces is not the wisest strategy in my view.
Let the Catalans vote yes on referendum, then take legal steps to prevent the secession on the grounds that it is anticonstitutional.
Closing polls with children on site will not further Madrid’s position or aid reconciliation between Madrid and Catalunya.
Besides, in Spain the day before elections is a day to reflect on the vote and its issues. All propagandizing must halt, by law. Protests and police on the streets are not a day of reflection.