Catalonia, Spain and national identity

 

Sir, – Your editorial “Cataluña Sí” (November 11th) describes as “contemptuous” the attitude taken by “Madrid’s political class” to the “referendum” held in Catalonia last Sunday on the issue of secession.

May I remind your readers that the so-called referendum had been suspended by the Spanish constitutional court on the grounds of its apparent unconstitutionality. Indeed, the Spanish constitution, which incidentally counted the support of 90.4 per cent of Catalans, does not recognise the right to self-determination of a part of the country, as is the case with the great majority of written constitutions in western democracies.

Sunday’s “referendum” was held in contempt of the court’s ruling and, with all due respect to those Spanish citizens in Catalonia that went to the polls, cannot be construed as a democratic exercise. There was no electoral census, no independent control at the polling stations or during the counting of the votes since all election officers were volunteers.

There is no official contempt regarding the aspirations for independence of many Catalans. The Spanish government has been and remains open to engaging in constructive dialogue. But in a democracy, any demand has to be based on institutional loyalty and channelled within the existing legal framework. No democracy is possible without the rule of law.

To compare the Spanish minister for justice’s understanding of politics with Erich Honecker’s is simply unacceptable. But the reference to the Berlin Wall is certainly relevant. Building new walls and creating artificial frontiers in Spain or anywhere else does not make any sense in today’s world and precisely when we have just celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of that Wall. – Yours, etc,

JAVIER GARRIGUES,

Ambassador of Spain,

Merlyn Park,

Dublin 4.