The Spanish government is to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy and impose direct rule after the region’s president refused to abandon the push for independence that has led to Spain’s biggest political crisis for 40 years.The announcement of the unprecedented measure came after the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, threatened a unilateral declaration of independence if the Spanish government did not agree to talks on the issue.
According to article 155, which has never been used, the Spanish government will need to lodge a formal complaint with Puigdemont, then submit its proposals to the senate for debate and approval. As a result, it will be at least a few days before concrete steps are taken.
Tensions in the already fraught impasse rose further this week after a judge at Spain’s national court denied bail to two prominent Catalan independence leaders who are being investigated for alleged sedition.
Spain Moves to Suspend Autonomy
Spain is to start suspending Catalonia's autonomy from Saturday, as the region's leader threatens to declare independence. The government said ministers would meet to activate Article 155 of the constitution, allowing it to take over running of the region.Catalonia's leader said the region's parliament would vote on independence if Spain continued "repression".Some fear the latest moves could spark further unrest after mass demonstrations before and since the ballot on 1 October.
However, the central government wants to minimise the risk of large-scale demonstrations, our correspondent says. Civil servants and government lawyers have thought long and hard about what measures to adopt and when and how they should be implemented.
Xavier Arbós, a constitutional expert at the University of Barcelona, said the situation was moving into "uncharted territory". He told the BBC: "We simply do not know what measures the Spanish government could enact. We do not know how the powers of the Catalan government could be affected."
It is likely that senior figures in charge of internal security in Catalonia could be dismissed, and control of the region's police force could pass to Madrid. The regional parliament could also be dissolved. One Spanish newspaper has reported that Mr. Puigdemont might nominally remain in his job but Madrid would aim to take control of many of his duties and powers.
What's the Libertarian Position?
I pinged my friend Pater Tenebrarunm at the Acting Man blog with a simple question for which I already knew the answer: What's the Libertarian position? Here's is Pater's reply:
:As libertarians we should always support secession, for a number of reasons:
The smaller the territories governments rule over, the less power they have.
The more territories and governments people can choose from, the less tyrannical government policies will be, as people will find it easier to vote with their feet.
Competition among governments is a good thing for citizens. That is one reason why the EU has become such an evil organization since it expanded its remit from being a trade union to become a political entity trying to centralize power. The idea of secession will eventually lead to the total abolition of government. After all, if a territory can secede, why not a city? Why not a block within a city? And lastly, why should not individuals also be able to secede?
Incidentally, this was an argument Rothbard made in support of secession. He basically said: "We are told anarchy is bad but governments and nation states exist in a state of anarchy vs. each other. Why is that not bad? And if that is not bad, how come getting rid of government altogether is considered bad?"
I have empirical support for this idea as well. Where is economic freedom the greatest, and which countries are therefore the by far most prosperous? Well, how about Hong Kong, Switzerland, Singapore, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra, all of which are tiny political territories. Some of them are almost twice as rich (in output per capita) than the so-called "developed world". What unites them are "laissez-faire" governments, low taxes, almost no licensing requirements, low tariffs or no tariffs at all, and so on. Oh, and none of them "throw their weight around on the world stage" or threaten any of their neighbors militarily.
Mish Position: No One Can Own You
Many of my readers back Spain, citing the rule of law.
But rule of law once allowed slavery, despite a US Declaration of Independence that stated "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."
A rule of law also once held that black votes were worth 3/5ths of a white vote and slave-owners got to cast those votes on behalf of blacks.
Other readers noted the radical socialist positions of some of Catalonia's leaders. So what?
People either have a right to self-determination or not.
In this case, the government of Spain has acted in a manner that tells the people of Catalonia, "Whether you like it or not, we own you. You cannot leave. If you try, we will jail you."
In essence, Spain is enforcing slavery on 90% of the population that decided to leave. If California or Texas voted to leave the United States I would say, go for it.
Military conscription and drafts are additional forms of slavery. Such laws mean the government can own you.
Here's the deal: No one has the right to own you, no matter what the law says!
Mike "Mish" Shedlock