Independence campaigns shake two European states

Between 1.5 million and 2 million people took to the streets in Barcelona to demand that the Spanish federal government in the capital of Madrid accept the results of a vote on the independence of Catalonia scheduled for Nov. 9.

Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, one of the more prosperous regions of Spain. Until 1975, under fascist dictator Francisco Franco, Catalans and their language faced severe repression. Currently Catalonia has some regional and linguistic autonomy.

The Spanish government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy claims that the vote is unconstitutional and says the government will go to court to have it blocked once the Catalan parliament confirms the date.

In a statement issued in 2010, the Communist Party of Catalonia (PSUC-ViU), which is affiliated with the Spanish CP, states it does not support independence. It proposes “a federal republic, conferring a large autonomy on the nationalities, but otherwise conserving a strong central state, which guarantees interterritorial solidarity and national unity.”

Scots to vote on independence from Britain Sept. 18

In Scotland, a referendum on independence from Britain scheduled for Sept. 18 has drawn an unprecedented amount of public interest — 97 percent of the residents of Scotland over 16 have registered to vote, 80 percent indicated they intend to vote, and nearly 800,000 voters have requested a postal ballot. Scotland’s 5.3 million people are currently British nationals.

Scottish high school and college students eligible to vote are very engaged in the process. Students in Glasgow filled a 12,000-seat hall to hear political speeches on the referendum. Just walking the streets of Edinburgh recently, this writer heard numerous street discussions. One in particular involved a bus driver from Spain who was going to vote “no” because he didn’t want to encourage Catalans to separate from the Spanish state.

Every Scottish newspaper, even the sleazy tabloids, devotes at least a page to the referendum each day.  The British Broadcasting Corporation has at least a half hour of referendum coverage daily, sometimes more.

Videos posted to YouTube by the major Edinburgh newspaper, The Scotsman, showed supporters of both “yes” and “no” campaigns filling the parks with marching bands of pipers and fifes drawing attention to the side they supported on the last Sunday before the vote.

The wording of the Scottish referendum is simple: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”  Only two options are provided: “yes” and “no.”

The stakes are high.  Scotland has major oil reserves, which the Scottish bourgeoisie want to control.

Britain’s regime plans to spend 100 billion pounds to update its nuclear arsenal — much of which is located in Scotland — and additional billions to join Washington’s intervention in the Middle East, while increasing austerity at home.

The bourgeois Scottish National Party, which has a majority in the Scottish parliament and is leading the “yes” campaign, has hinted it will not go along with British military initiatives if the “yes” vote wins.  But the SNP intends to keep  using the British pound and wants Queen Elizabeth to remain head of government of an independent Scotland.

The “no” campaign, called “Better Together,” has focused on the economic uncertainties involved in independence.

When the English government agreed earlier to honor the referendum, polls showed 65 percent for the “no” option and 35 percent for “yes.”  In the last month, however, the “yes”  option has won a lot of support, and most pollsters now say the vote is too close to call.

In a leaflet distributed massively in Scotland, the Scottish Socialist Party states, “We want an independent socialist Scotland — a modern democratic republic.  We support Scotland’s right of self-determination because … the working class majority will be economically, socially and politically better off.”

In a statement issued in May, the Scottish Communist Party — a section of the British CP — says, “Communists in Scotland do not support independence.  Since the 1930s the demand of Communists has been for progressive federalism.”  It goes on to define that as “the struggle for progressive social change across the nations of Britain — which enables a social redistribution of wealth and power.”

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