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“Catalans need Scotland because it provides a precedent for having a referendum on independence”

Michael Keating, Director of the Edinburgh-based Centre on Constitutional Change, said in an interview with CNA that “Catalans need Scotland more than Scotland needs Catalonia”, because the Scots “have in recent years been doing much better than the Catalan independence people: they got a referendum, they got the right to self-determination and they got more powers”. The President of the SNP-Friends of Catalonia group, David McDonald, said that he sees similarities between Catalonia and Scotland but warned that the Scottish people “wouldn’t have accepted the kind of censorship or approach” from the UK that Spain takes with Catalonia.

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05 May 2016 07:04 PM

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ACN

Edinburgh (CNA).- Michael Keating, Director of the Edinburgh-based Centre on Constitutional Change, said in an interview with CNA that “Catalans need Scotland more than Scotland needs Catalonia”, because the Scots “have in recent years been doing much better than the Catalan independence people: they got a referendum, they got the right to self-determination and they got more powers”. The President of the SNP-Friends of Catalonia group, David McDonald, added that he sees similarities between Catalonia and Scotland but warned that the Scottish people “wouldn’t have accepted the kind of censorship or approach” from the UK that Spain takes with Catalonia. 


More than 4 million citizens were called to vote on Thursday in the first Holyrood election since the 2014 referendum, in which the ‘no’ to independence won with 55% of the vote. However, the SNP, now led by Nicola Sturgeon, is the prominent party in Scottish politics, and continues to be seen my many pro-independence people in Catalonia as an example.

However, Scottish politicians tend to distance themselves from the struggle in Catalonia, said Keating. “Maybe they do not have much to win and a lot to lose”, he argues, describing an “asymmetrical” relationship between Edinburgh and Barcelona. “The Catalan independence people need Scotland because it provides a precedent for having a referendum on independence”, he stated. According to him, the situation in Catalonia is at a standstill, partly because of the “extreme judicialisation of politics”. “The UK government has not taken a single Scottish law to the Supreme Court in the 17 years that we’ve had devolution, because in the British culture the idea is to resolve these things through political means rather than taking them to courts”, while in Spain, he added, there is “an extraordinary number of laws taken to the Constitutional Court”. “There is a politicisation of the judiciary that doesn’t exist in this country”, he pointed out. David McDonald considered, in turn, that the Scottish people “wouldn’t have accepted the kind of censorship or approach” that Spain takes with Catalonia.

While politicians and high-ranking officials from both Catalonia and Scotland try to distance themselves from each other, having only “cordial but not close relationships” it is in the base that the mutual support is more evident, according to Keating. Something that McDonald wants to take further. “Scotland and Catalonia should work together”, he said. “We are an example of how self-determination processes should be: we are not violent”, he added.

McDonald said that people in Scotland “see the difficulties in Catalonia” to have a referendum, especially when dealing “with a government which refuses to negotiate”. This SNP councillor from Glasgow argues that he is “the first person to point out” David Cameron’s “flaws and faults in politics” but recognised that “he is a democrat”. “He is unlike his Spanish counterparts, a democrat”, he argued, stressing, however, that he doesn’t “support any of his politics”.

According to Professor Keating one “cannot translate the Scottish experience into Spain” because “the legal and the constitutional situations are quite different”. “But what the UK has learnt in the last 30 years is that even matters that seem to be issues of complete principle, can be negotiated and compromised”, he concluded. 

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  • The Director of the Edinburgh-based Centre on Constitutional Change, Michael Keating (by S.Prim)

  • The Director of the Edinburgh-based Centre on Constitutional Change, Michael Keating (by S.Prim)