The show trial of Carles Puigdemont: a tragicomedy in four acts

The show trial of Carles Puigdemont: a tragicomedy in four acts

Last Wednesday it looked like the previous evening’s suspended declaration of Catalan independence had backfired, by giving the Spanish government the chance to put the ball back in the Catalan government’s court by asking for clarification. Here I argue that the Spanish government, by setting in motion the process to commandeer the Catalan regional government in accordance with Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, may be walking into a PR trap.

The way this process is regulated in the Spanish senate’s rules of procedure will allow Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont to present his own appearance before a senate committee as his defence in a political show trial before a kangaroo court dominated by members of the governing party. For maximum mutual damage, Puigdemont can even call snap regional elections after the Senate committee finds against him, but before a plenary session of the Senate authorises any corrective actions proposed the Spanish government.

The whole process will take the better part of two weeks, during which both Catalan and Spanish nationalists – politicians, media and grass-roots – will vociferously escalate tensions.

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The best finance minister ever

What a great guy.  Wolfgang Schäuble is still in office, but we are already missing him. Germany’s greatest finance minister ever. One of the few genuine pro-Europeans in the Merkel government. A friend of the French. And of the Greeks.

The sheer hypocrisy of the farewell notes we have read in recent times about Wolfgang Schäuble is sickening. Among those are leading economists, maybe because they need to ingratiate themselves with the new powers, now that the SPD is departing the German government.

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Independence as performance art

Independence as performance art

Lately, Catalan separatists have started making parallels between their situation and the independence of Slovenia. Foreshadowing yesterday’s suspended declaration of independence in the Catalan parliament, it had been suggested that Catalonia might do just this because Slovenia had earned international recognition after agreeing to a moratorium on the effects of its own declaration of independence in the Summer of 1991. It is perhaps particularly appropriate that in the 1980s Slovenia spawned Neue Slowenische Kunst, an avant-garde (though they called themselves retro-garde) collective engaging in political performance art around the concept of the state. Here I argue that last night’s Catalan declaration of independence took place on a symbolic plane, and that the clash with the formal legal expectations of observers is very much like that elicited by performance art, down to causing offence and anger at taboo-breaking. One could call the events of last night Catalonia’s Žižek moment, after Slovenian philosopher-cum-performance-artist Slavoj Žižek, who is loosely associated with the NSK art collective.

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