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Austerity as a Vehicle for Breaking Up Nations

Herbert Schweiger: SS veteran and supporter of South Tyrol Independence

COMMENT: Over the years, we have covered the Hapsburg/Thyssen UNPO and its championing of ethnic minorities as a vehicle for breaking up large nations into smaller, more pliable states. Using the human suffering and social dislocation brought about by its “austerity” program to fragment large nations, Germany is actively supporting the secession of Catalonia from Spain and, in cooperation its Austrian partner, the South Tyrol from Italy.

The Austrian drive for the independence of South Tyrol is driven by the “Freedom Party,” formerly headed by Jorg Haider. That party was founded after the Second World War to allow Third Reich veterans to participate in Austrian politics.

Manifesting what, for lack of a better term, might be called “ethnic imperialism,” Germany is using far-right, neo-Nazi elements as foot soldiers to assist the vertriebene groups in promoting the secession of German-speaking minorities in Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe.

Targeting China, Germany continues its equivocal support for individuals and ethnic groups seeking to fragment that nation.  As we have seen in past discussion, the United States is also targeted for Balkanization and subversion. 

When we first presented our view that the U.S. was targeted for fragmentation, the response was derisive and altogether unkind. With a number of states floating secessionist petitions and with right-wing politicos advocating the fragmentation of the Union in the wake of the 2012 elections, those critics might help themselves to generous slice of humble pie.

If the economic situation here worsens significantly and the centrifugal political forces gain economic and/or paramilitary strength, the secessionist movement may well grow.

This topic is complex and we have presented  it at length in the past. Listeners/readers who wish to supplement their understanding should examine the past broadcasts and posts on the subject. Of particular significance is the Hapsburg/Thyssen connection–a direct tributary leading to the Underground Reich.

Past broadcasts analyzing this topic include: FTR #’s 550, 615,  616, 627, 635 & 636, 652, 668, 676.

Be sure to keep abreast of the important information feeding along the bottom of the front page of this website, featuring German Foreign Policy, Germany Watch and The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report


“Crisis Profiteers”; german-foreign-policy.com; 11/27/2012.

EXCERPT: Despite his recent electoral setback, the secessionist-minded prime minister of Catalonia is keeping Europe’s debate on the Berlin-supported secessionist movements alive. In Catalonia, whose intensive efforts to secede from Spain has recently been supported by Germany, mainly those forces, which had been even more adamant in the struggle for Catalonia’s secession, have benefitted from the prime minister’s unexpected setback. At the same time, secessionist forces in other European nations have received a boost – for example in the German-speaking regions of Italy, where budget cuts, imposed by the German austerity dictate for combating the crisis, have escalated the conflict between South Tyrol and Rome. The principal parties in South Tyrol have now gained Austria as its “protective power,” thereby removing the conflict from Italy’s hands. Efforts to convince Vienna to grant Austrian passports to German-speaking North Italians, alongside clearly secessionist demands are being intensified. Initial target dates for secession are already being pronounced.

Majority in Favor of Secession

A continuation of the debate over Catalonia’s secession from Spain seems apparent in the aftermath of the recent regional elections. Even though the party of Prime Minister Artur Mas – with its precise schedule for secession – has won the elections, albeit while suffering a loss of votes – some observers attribute this loss to its stringent austerity course, to combat the Euro crisis. Accordingly, the lost votes did not go to his conservative anti-secessionist opponent of the Partido Popular, but rather to the left-wing Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, (Republican Left of Catalonia) which is struggling even more adamantly for secession from Spain. The next regional parliament, therefore, will have a clear secessionist majority. Germany has recently been supporting Catalonia’s secessionist efforts, which are oriented on the notion that Catalonia – the richest region of the country – would not have entered the crisis, if it would not have to share its wealth, via the central government’s redistribution with Spain’s poorer areas. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[1])

“Protective Power” Austria

While Catalan separatism is grabbing attention throughout Europe, South Tyrolean secessionist efforts are also making bigger waves. Once more, the German austerity dictate to counter the Euro crisis is the direct cause. Rome is obliged to execute drastic budget cuts, as demanded by Berlin, which effect the financial margin of maneuver for the Bolzano Alto Adige (“South Tyrol”) province. The cancellation of resources earmarked for South Tyrol has provoked protests. The question of whether Austria can intervene in Rome on behalf of South Tyrol, is again being raised in this context. Austria presumes the “protective power” function for the German-speaking population of Northern Italy. “We are speaking here about Italian domestic problems, there is no need for Vienna’s competence,”[2] admonished Italian Prime Minister, Mario Monti, in late October. His observation harvested vehement protest in South Tyrol and Austria. “On the question of South Tyrol” thundered Austria’s former National Council President, Andreas Khol (ÖVP), Monti must “be urgently given tutoring.”[3] In Bolzano, the ruling South Tyrolean People’s Party (SVP) has announced it would intervene both in Rome and Vienna – Austria’s function as “protective power” is not an issue. It has even been suggested that North Italian public squares be named after Austria – as “clear evidence of the ties.”[4]

Ambassador Summoned

This month Vienna reacted. First, the Austrian government summoned Italy’s ambassador to the foreign ministry to protest Monti’s statement. Last Friday, the National Council gave an audience to a delegation from the South Tyrolean parliament in Vienna, which complained “about the pressure” exerted “from the Italian central government” on South Tyrol. An SVP parliamentarian complained that “in its austerity regulations,” the Italian government “was ignoring the autonomy statutes” and infringing on “South Tyrolean competence.” It is furthermore intending “to reform Italy’s constitution to make it even more centralist.” To which the president of Austria’s National Council replied that Vienna, under no circumstances, would alter its prevailing political standpoint. It will “maintain its protective function for South Tyrol.”[5]

Austrians Abroad

A parliamentarian from the “South Tyrolean Freedom” party, which campaigns for the secession of this North Italian province under the motto “South Tyrol is not Italy!” was also participating in last Friday’s meeting in Vienna and reported on “the aspiration of many South Tyroleans” to “attain Austrian citizenship.” “This would facilitate Austria’s exercising its protective function for South Tyrol, because Austria would then be protecting not only a minority in the neighboring country, but its own citizens.” According to a report, an Austrian state secretary explicitly replied, emphasizing that “granting South Tyroleans Austrian citizenship would lead to no bilateral problems,” because “Italy has made no objections” – “and has granted citizenship to Italians living abroad.”[6] This refers to descendents of the so-called Italians abroad, living in regions of Slovenia or Croatia, which had once been Italian territory, a practice, also applied by the Federal Republic of Germany to “Germans Abroad.” In fact, the negotiations on granting Austrian citizenship to the German-speaking population of South Tyrol are making headway. The principle hurdles seem to have been mastered.

Free State South Tyrol

Whereas Bolzano’s ruling South Tyrolean People’s Party (SVP) continues to abstain from openly calling for secession from Italy, and right-wing extremist forces, such as the South Tyrolean Freedom party, have had their eye on being annexed by Austria for a long time, the North Italian “the Liberals,” the sister party of Austria’s Freedom Party (FPÖ), is now calling for founding a “Free State South Tyrol.” According to their plans, preparations for a “referendum on whether South Tyrol should take recourse to its right of self-determination,” should be initiated. . . .

“Evidence of German Presence”; german-foreign-policy.com; 11/23/2012.

EXCERPT: German right-wing extremists are politically exploiting government funded cultural events for the German-speaking minority in Poland. According to reports, members of the “Silesian Youth” recently established contacts in neighboring Poland during this year’s “Cultural Festival of the German Minority” in Wroclaw. The “Silesian Youth” have been classified as right-wing extremist. Several of its leading members had been active members in currently banned neo-Nazi organizations. Another association of German right-wing extremists also called for participation at the festival. Earlier, “Silesian Youth” activists marched in a demonstration in Katowice demanding “autonomy for Upper Silesia.” The Saxon regional section claims to be secretly taking care of former German cemeteries (“Evidence of German Presence in Silesia”) as well as systematically expanding its relations to the German-speaking minority – in cooperation with a “relief organization” under the direction of a former activist of the neo-Nazi NPD.

German Culture

Activists of the “Silesian Youth” participated in this year’s “Cultural Festival of the German Minority” held September 29, in Wroclaw, and according to reports, used the opportunity to establish new contacts to Poland’s German-speaking minority. The festival has been taking place every third year since 2003, drawing several thousands of members of the German-speaking minority. Representatives of German resettled groups, who have close sentimental ties – as “Heimatvertriebene” (expellees from the homeland) to the “Heimatverbliebene” (those who remained in the homeland) also regularly, attend the festival. According to the event’s organizer, the objective of the cultural festival is to put “the cultural riches of the German minority” on public display.[1] In addition, it promotes future cohesion within the minority and reinforces an orientation on Germany, whose General Consul in Opole contributed financially. The German national anthem was sung at the event. The report points out that the German ambassador attended the festival “up to the end,” – “a great honor,” says the organizer.[2] Also in attendance was a right-wing group that had split off from the German League of Expellees (BdV), whose leader has been convicted of relativizing the Shoah.[3] A certain “Owners Association – East,” which seeks to have Polish property taken over by German “expellees” was also beating the drums for people to attend. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[4])

Neo-Nazi Contacts

The Silesian Youth was founded in 1983 as the official youth organization of the “Homeland Association Silesia.” Through advertizing for younger members, the homeland association sought to rejuvenate its aging organization, attracting a new generation of members, born long after resettlement. Over the past decade, the Silesian Youth has clearly made a right-wing development, even though some regional chapters have not followed. For example, the Bavarian regional chapter broke with the national organization in April 2008, declaring that in the latter, “extremist forces” were in action and “were challenging, to a certain extent, the German Constitution.”[5] The Silesian Youth in Saxony and Thuringia are still the main activists. The German government officially accuses them of maintaining “links to the neo-Nazi milieu including to the NPD.” As of May 2011, “leading officiating functionaries” had also been active “in the neo-Nazi ‘Heimattreuen Deutschen Jugend’ (‘Homeland-Faithful German Youth’).” The German government boasts possessing “concrete evidence” “that – emanating from the Thuringia Silesian Youth regional organization – right-wing extremists also exert influence on the Silesian Youth National Organization.”[6] Independent research has confirmed contacts to neo-Nazis.

“Break with Warsaw!”

Activists of the Silesian Youth, who, for years, had limited themselves to “East Trips” as tourists to Poland, have now begun to engage in politics on Polish territory. The Silesian Youth from Saxony claim that they not only participated in the “Cultural Festival of the German-speaking Minority,” but also in a demonstration July 14, 2012 in Katowice, where several thousands demanded “autonomy for Upper Silesia.” The organizers are not Poles of the German-speaking minority, but rather activists of a movement that interprets the Polish-“Silesian” regional dialect to be evidence of a “Silesian” minority and therefore demands they be granted special rights – even including political autonomy. There are also German-speaking nationalists in this movement. The movement is said to be “un-Polish well organized” and is in constant growth, praises the Silesian Youth from Saxony. At the July 14 closing rally, messages of greetings from Germany and from separatists in Catalonia and Flanders were read. “Numerous consultations” had taken place and “many new friends” were made, according to the organization’s webpage. “All the best, at ‘Break with Warsaw,’ See you again next year, promised.”[7]

In the Cold of East Germany

According to the Silesian Youth from Saxony, they continue to be active in Poland, caring for “evidence of German presence in Silesia” – “even if this only means the cemeteries.” They report, for example, having visited and provisionally repaired the ruins of a protestant cemetery of German graves “not far beyond the Neisse.” “The infinite damage caused there by the pride of the Polish nation (…)” could not be completely “eradicated” on such short notice, but mitigated – with, for example, the restoration of a memorial to German soldiers killed in action.[8] Silesian Youth from Saxony also report on their various visits to members of the German-speaking minority, which they intend to intensify. In the “cold of East Germany” they made “Christmas donations” to some of the German-speaking Polish women, explicitly promising to “return more often” in the future.[9] In a self-portrait, the Silesian Youth from Saxony answer an objection from right-wing extremists – referring to regions of Poland – that “East Germany is in any case lost.” They declare that “lost and dead is only that which is forgotten.”[10]

“Germans Help Germans First”

According to their own account, the Silesian Youth from Saxony explain that thanks to Klaus Hoffmann, head of the “Freundschafts- und Hilfswerks Ost” (“Friendship and Relief Service East”) their “Christmas donations” were made possible. Hoffmann – a former activist of the neo-Nazi NPD and “Gauführer” (district leader) of Lower Saxony’s “Viking youth” (banned in 1994) – and his organization of 80 members, founded in 1991, regularly deliver “relief supplies” to the German-speaking minority in Poland. . . .

” ‘Smash China’ (II) “; german-foreign-policy.com; 10/16/2012.

EXCERPT: Applauded by the German President and officials of the German government, the laureate of a prominent German cultural award made a plea for smashing China to pieces. China is a “heap of rubbish,” he said, it must “be dismembered,” insisted the Chinese author, Liao Yiwu, a resident of Germany, who was awarded the prestigious Peace Prize of the German Book Trade last Sunday. His acceptance speech, in which he made a plea for dismembering his native country, received hefty applause from German President Joachim Gauck and other government officials. This diplomatic affront occurred only a few days after the German Foreign Minister and his Chinese counterpart had signed a “Common Declaration,” in which Berlin declared its intentions to enhance its “strategic partnership” with Beijing. On the one hand, this declaration has resulted from the fact that, because of China’s economic strength, Germany, for the time being, needs a certain form of cooperation, not only to satisfy the business interests of its enterprises, but also to get support in solving the Euro crisis. On the other hand, the applause for Liao’s recent anti-Chinese invective shows that Berlin still considers Beijing as its rival to be combated, on a long-term basis.

“Heap of Rubbish”

Sunday, the exiled Chinese author Liao Yiwu declared during his acceptance speech for the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, that the Chinese nation must be “dismembered.” He said, China is an “infinitely huge heap of rubbish” – a “dictatorial (…) great empire,” in which “many regions and peoples are forcibly chained together.” It must be dismembered into numerous small countries – “for the sake of peace and peace of mind of the whole of humanity.” A situation should be sought, in which Tibet, for example, is “a free country,” in which “borders separate Sichuan from Yunnan.” Sichuan and Yunnan, are two provinces of China, which Liao evidently would also like to see become separate countries. Liao said that the famous philosopher Laozi, who is supposed to have lived in the 6th Century BC, had made a plea for the creation of “smaller countries with fewer inhabitants.” Back then, China was in fact comprised “of innumerable small splinter states.” Although, he says, “throughout this period, the fires of war were never” extinguished, “one nation has permanently occupied the others.” Nevertheless, Liao says in essence that the People’s Republic of China must absolutely be replaced by numerous small nations.[1]

Sponsored by the Foreign Ministry

The weekend appeal for smashing China, has significance through Liao’s connections to German politics. The author, born in 1958 in the People’s Republic of China, has been in serious conflict with the Chinese authorities since the 1980s and has spent time in jail. After his works were made available in German translations in 2007, German government agencies endeavored to win wide publicity for him. Liao’s planned appearances at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2009 as well as at the International Literature Fair (lit.COLOGNE) in the spring of 2010, had been explicitly endorsed by the German Foreign Ministry, which was aware of him being an opponent of the Chinese government, but authorities in Beijing thwarted these appearances. The author came to Germany in 2011, where he has since resided, living on a scholarship from the Foreign Ministry financed, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). After receiving the Geschwister Scholl Award (2011) of the Bavarian Regional Association of the Stock Market Society of the German Book Trade, Liao has now received the even more prestigious Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, which, according to its official explanation, is awarded each year to a person, who has “contributed to the realization of the idea of peace.” Sunday, when the author called for smashing China, the German President, the President of the German Bundestag, Germany’s Minister of Education, along with numerous other prominent German officials attending the ceremonies, applauded.

Business Interests

Liao’s invectives, which were widely acclaimed in the German media, were uttered only a few days after the German Foreign Minister and his Chinese counterpart had signed a “Common Declaration.” Guido Westerwelle had visited China during the second half of last week, to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the People’s Republic of China. Using the occasion, he pointed to the fact that Berlin, in the meantime, has established a “strategic partnership” with Beijing – since China has become a “great power center,” to which Germany wants to strengthen its ties.[2] On the one hand, this is because of very strong German business interests, developing out of China’s growing economic influence. The People’s Republic has developed into Germany’s second largest supplier and fifth largest customer, both with an upward trend, as well as an important location for German investments. During Chancellor Merkel’s most recent visit alone, company contracts were signed with a composite value of several billion US dollars. Volkswagen has announced new investments worth billions. In addition, Berlin is also seeking Beijing’s support in helping curb the Euro crisis.[3] The Common Declaration, signed October 11, 2012, provides for new steps toward a closer cooperation, including an annual “strategic dialogue” between the foreign ministers as well as regular “consultations” of the chiefs of staff.[4]

Secessionists as Allies

The significance of the developing cooperation with the People’s Republic can now be seen in the applause for Liao Yiwu’s anti-Chinese invectives. While Berlin, for the time being, is intensifying its cooperation in the interests of German businesses and measures to gain control of the Euro crisis, it is simultaneously intensifying its contacts to those forces, who could potentially become Chinese allies in opposition to Beijing. Liao Yiwu is exemplary in two ways. First, he calls for China to be dismembered and thereby joins the secessionists, who had already begun to implicate the Federal Republic of Germany in the second half of the 1980s. This was particularly the case of the old Tibetan feudal clique around the Dalai Lama. He had been disempowered in the 1950s, subsequently waged an underground war against Beijing, without success, in spite of comprehensive western support – particularly from the CIA. He is today in exile in Dharamsala, India, where he continues to pursue his struggle against the People’s Republic of China. Their structures and some of their subversive activities have been supported by Germany. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[5]) Since some time, Germany has been giving the secessionist activities of the Uyghurs in western China’s Xinjiang province much more attention.[6]

Ambitious Middle Class as Partner

Secondly, Liao, in Berlin’s views, seems apt to infiltrate social settings that can be brought into position against the Chinese government on a long-term basis. These are the ambitious, for the most part, urban influenced and middle class, whose growing profit and power interests could one day compel them to join with western liberalizers against Beijing. This has been the idea propelling Berlin’s efforts, over the years, to win partners among the Chinese civil rights activists and artists, accessible to the West. They, in the long run, could gain beneficial access to the middle classes. This explains German support for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo, who does not want to completely dismember China, but still transform it into a loose confederation of relatively independent units (a “federal republic”). . . .


20 comments for “Austerity as a Vehicle for Breaking Up Nations”

  1. Chinese mass xenophobia may prove to be a force for the overall global good. In Russia, western capital interests sought to create a class of newly wealthy oligarchs who would take covert control of the machine of the Russian state and ally themselves fully with their counterparts in the west. The forces that forestalled that are not beyond moral condemnation themselves and belong to the slippery gradient of nationalism, racism and fear of the other. Even if the full analysis of those mass drives escapes us, they did concretely result in the emergence of Putin as a fully Russian leader with specific raisons d’etre. It’s instructive to realize that reestablishing Russian sovereignty was accomplished only partially and was proportional to the degree of national resistance to international vulture capital.

    The massive bureaucracy that is China cannot respond so dramatically and quickly as did chaotic Russia to the inroads of foreign rationalized capital but a reaction has been long obvious and is undoubtedly strengthening. Is a Chinese entrepreneur who considers himself belonging more to the class of global capitalists than to the class of being Chinese a moral traitor of some type? According to the atavistic and distorted mass psychology that is playing out globally, he is, and so will not attain all his ends. The resistance is coming from a deep reserve of the desire to preserve Chinese identity for its own sake rather than the desire to preserve higher human values. Socialism in China has devolved to become just a way of saying to the west that we are not you, but if the local emergence of less virtuous motives delays the implementation of complete global fascism, we should gladly accept that result.

    No purist moral judgements can survive in this storm and we must cheer as bad guy X fights bad guy Y. Since no social mechanisms exist that can effectively identify, vilify, resist and dismantle the deep fascist state in its present viral, global incarnation, we must live out our daily lives in the midst of secular evil and mostly just watch it destroy. It grows and it hunts and it dreams its collective fantasy of immortality for itself and is out of the control of even its fiercest advocates. Knowing this and seeing no way to reverse course, its adherents must become reality-denying and morally corrupt to the same degree as the human tragedy that grows daily. And for the rest of us, we must develop the trick of selectively damping down consciousness to exist from day to day. The global Pavlovian breakdown of the human psyche is being accomplished by the very visible specter of an onrushing destructive process, imminently predictable but equally unstoppable by directed human effort.

    We are left to hope that competing evils leave us or our progeny a space to survive to a better future.

    Posted by Dwight | December 1, 2012, 6:10 am
  2. Hi Dave

    Here’s the map of their plans for Europe. Note Britain too is broken up.

    Every country is smaller, except Germany.


    Posted by GW | December 1, 2012, 7:59 am
  3. Also


    MI5 files on German intelligence running the Scottish National Party to break up Britain;

    Posted by GW | December 1, 2012, 8:03 am
  4. @Dwight: “Chi­nese mass xeno­pho­bia may prove to be a force for the over­all global good.” Sadly, I will HAVE to completely disagree with that notion. If anything at all, mass xenophobia in that country will aid the aims of our enemies(you need only look at what’s happened in America).

    Despite what the mainstream media and the Underground Reich would like us to think, today’s China is NOT a socialist state, Dwight, not in the least. It is in fact, Mussolinian FASCIST thru and thru. It is now completely and totally ruled by its military and its corporations, and the Underground Reich and all the rest of the members of the World Crime Network would love nothing more than to repeat their success in China throughout the whole world, including the U.S. and Russia.

    The balkanization game? It’s definitely out there, but in China’s case, it’s little more than a ruse at the moment; their real overall goal so far has been to keep China in its current state as long as possible.

    Perhaps, however, if the Democracy movement starts to look like it will have some success, then perhaps Balkanization efforts will begin in earnest(after all, they’d rather see two or more divided Chinas fighting amongst each other than a unified democratic China whose government actually does turn into a force for good). As for now, though, it’s not really happening yet.

    Posted by Steven L. | December 1, 2012, 6:02 pm
  5. Stephen, our mutual loose usage of the word ‘socialism’ should not confuse the issue. China’s brand of state-dominated capitalism or fascism (as you describe it and I don’t agree with that label) is designed to prevent the west’s perpetual project of colonization while still being an competitive player in the world market. The balance is maintained by closely monitoring and limiting the degree of foreign corporate ownership of Chinese enterprise. Preserving China as Chinese is a much different goal than world conquest.

    The totalitarian marshaling of any country’s economy to prevent outside domination might loosely be called either socialism or fascism but the term ‘fascism’ is less apt if fascism describes a process where some posited entity must continually encroach on and absorb other competing entities.

    Without suggesting there is anything remarkably benevolent about China or the Chinese national character, I am simply pointing out that China’s geopolitics are largely slanted to self-preservation rather than conquest and that this may delay the realization of a borderless free-market/fascist world state.

    The Balkanization project is problematic for the west and will have limited success, since China is relatively less ethnically diverse, considering its size, than most other regions of the world.

    Posted by Dwight | December 2, 2012, 6:05 am
  6. If we want the Germans to stop playing this game of interfering in the internal politics of other nations then the best strategy is ‘fight fire with fire’. The rest of the world should start supporting Bavarian, Prussian/E. German and Saxon secession movements.

    Posted by Chris | December 2, 2012, 12:14 pm
  7. One inevitable consequence from the balkanization of a nation is an increase in people relocating. So it’s worth noting that it’s also a consequence of the eurozone crisis:

    Euro-Zone Woes Fuel Immigration to Germany
    cgh — with wire reports

    The oft-cited possibility of a double-dip recession in the euro zone has become reality. According to statistics released on Thursday by the EU statistical office Eurostat, gross domestic product in the 17 countries in the common currency area fell by 0.1 percent in the third quarter following a 0.2 percent drop in the second quarter. With two consecutive quarters of negative growth, the euro zone has entered its second recession since the global financial crisis of 2009.

    Furthermore, preliminary statistics released by Germany’s Federal Statistical Office on Thursday indicate that the tough economic conditions in southern Europe are continuing to fuel migration to Germany. The number of immigrants arriving in Germany in the first half of the year was greater than at any point since the mid-1990s, exceeding even the levels seen in the second half of 2011. Much of the growth is coming from those euro-zone countries hit hardest by the debt crisis.

    Climbing Immigration to Germany

    That, though, has not stopped the influx of immigrants coming to Germany from crisis-stricken nations further south. According to the Federal Statistical Office on Thursday, just over half million people arrived in Germany from abroad from January to June of this year. That was some 66,000 more than came in the first half of 2011, an increase of 15 percent and marking the continuation of a trend. Last year, immigration was up 20 percent over 2010.

    The steepest increases in the first half of this year have come from euro-zone states. More than 15,700 people arrived from Greece in the first six months of 2012, a 78 percent increase over the first half of 2011. The 11,000 people who arrived from Spain mark a jump of 53 percent over the previous year. The influx from non-euro-zone country Hungary rose by 46 percent, partially due to tough economic conditions there.

    Numerically, however, Poland remains on top of the list of origin countries. Some 89,000 people arrived from Germany’s neighbor in the first half of the year.

    With that in mind, it’s going to be interesting to see how the “move to Germany if you can”-model for the economy works out as this trend continues because east Germany pursued a very similar strategy for reducing its unemployment rate since reunification and it hasn’t exactly worked out well:

    Merkel’s euro push leaves east Germany out in the cold

    By Stephen Brown

    EISENHUETTENSTADT, Germany | Mon Dec 3, 2012 11:50am GMT

    (Reuters) – This fading industrial city, like many in Angela Merkel’s former East German home, is stony ground for the chancellor’s message of European integration and fertile soil for opponents trying to stop her winning a third term next September.

    More than two decades after unification, income and jobs in the five eastern states, home to 15 percent of the population, still lag behind the west and trillions of euros in transfers have not stemmed an exodus that has left some areas looking like ghost towns.

    “People have too many problems to worry about the euro crisis,” said Michael, a 40-year-old steelworker in the town of Eisenhuettenstadt, east from Berlin near the Polish border.

    Originally called “Stalinstadt”, it was built in the 1950s as an industrial complex and “the first Socialist city in Germany”. The pride of the GDR, it was renamed in 1961 and had 50,000 inhabitants in its heyday.

    In a familiar story across east Germany, reunification meant mass unemployment as communist-run industry failed to compete on the free market. About 40 percent of the town’s population went west and much of the housing for GDR workers stands empty.

    In a country whose conservative chancellor dedicates a lot of time to blue-sky thinking about the future and demographic change, the most demographically-challenged areas of do not feel their plight is a political priority.

    “Future? We have no future,” said Suzanne, wheeling her bicycle past an Germany abandoned prefab tower block with broken windows on the banks of a canal. She would not give her surname, like many people in a country with historic sensitivities about privacy.

    Merkel’s plans for a third term, if she wins, are typically undramatic and give the impression of fine-tuning a well-oiled machine. The Christian Democrats (CDU) will make her the focus of a personality-based campaign which will be new for Germany.

    “The election will be won by whoever is most convincing that our currency and jobs are safe,” said one senior Merkel ally.

    Judging by what people in Eisenhuettenstadt would like to see discussed – a legal minimum wage and greater job security – there is still a lot of work to be done convincing people in the east, where unemployment is way over the 6.9 percent national rate and incomes are a fifth lower than the average in the west.

    “We just want reasonable hope for our future,” said steelworker Michael, walking home on a raw winter evening from the plant that dominates the town’s sky-line and its thoughts.

    Still popularly known by its communist-era name EKO-Stahl, the plant that used to employ 12,000 people now gives work to 2,700 and is owned by ArcelorMittal.

    “The steelworks won’t go on producing forever because of all this competition from China,” said local woman Suzanne. “The kids just move away. They go where the jobs are.”

    The town’s 9 percent unemployment rate is better than many other areas of east Brandenburg, but Mayor Dagmar Pueschel says it has only fallen that far – from over 20 percent in the early 1990s – because so many thousands of people have left.

    “Mayors in the area around Berlin worry about how to pay for new schools, kindergartens and housing. Here it’s the opposite – we have to close down kindergartens and demolish housing. We’ve already demolished 6,000 homes,” she said.

    Over at the steelworks, ArcelorMittal’s Schmidt said EU and national energy taxes, prices and policy were hurdles that meant the German steel industry “is in a race it cannot win”.

    If more industry leaves, the exodus will accelerate. Already the population of the eastern states is seen shrinking by a further 15 percent by 2030, nearly three times faster than the rate at which the overall German population is forecast to fall.

    Also note that the spikes in German immigration could be an especially difficult trend for lower-income Germans already struggling to get by because, according to a new OECD report, German employers prefer foreign unskilled labor over the domestic counterparts for the low wage segments of the economy. And the unemployment rate for immigrants living in Germany is already unusually so there’s a lot of available cheap labor for German employers. In other words, while this employment trend may benefit a few interest groups, the overall job situation for low income east Germans doesn’t look good:

    OECD report: immigrant employment rate up in Germany
    Date 03.12.2012
    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has reported improvements in the employment rate among immigrants living in Germany. However, Germany could do more for foreign workers, it said.

    Over the past decade, the unemployment rate among immigrants in Germany rose to 65 percent, a full seven percent, according to Monday’s report from the Paris-based economic organization. While the report’s other analyses revealed a comparatively better picture in Germany than in other OECD countries, it drew attention to a situation still in need of improvement.

    The education level also reportedly rose by 12 percent among Germany’s population with foreign roots. However, the central-European economic power lagged in hiring highly educated workers over the past decade – regardless of where they had been born – compared to their German counterparts, especially in the public sector.

    “In Germany, [employers] rarely make use of the opportunity to hire a teacher or policeman with foreign roots,” said OECD immigration expert Thomas Liebig.

    By contrast, low-skilled migrant workers were hired more often than Germans lacking qualifications.

    “Many employers consider these foreigners as poorly educated, but willing work,” said OECD expert Liebig.

    kms/hc (dpa, dapd, epd)

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 3, 2012, 3:59 pm
  8. I think some more meta-analysis would be welcome from Pter or Dave or others in the thread of this specific line of inquiry. It is not an exact science, to be sure, but some greater venture into the realm of cumulative personal opinion would let us know which questions we are collectively pondering. The opportunity to come to more definite conclusions should not be missed when we have some seemingly like-minded and capable thinkers in this informal forum. The raft of data supporting the idea that destructive forces are at work on the planet is surely welcome and necessary, but is that enough?

    For instance, I see the global accumulative capitalist (fascist) process as having only incidental preponderance and origin in Germany. The evidence I see of the global mechanism points to an overall recent ‘slipperiness’, wherein no geographic focus will be found and no weak center will be allowed to coalesce.

    I see no overarching contradiction in the historic data which points to Germany as the historic focus (considering only a history of two centuries or so) of the most virulent brand(s) of fascism and my own contention that the forces we are witnessing are not, in the end, geographically, ethnically, culturally or language based.

    According to this postulate, the German people will be victimized as thoroughly as anyone else in the future, by forces that have no loyalty to national identity.

    And, by this same interpretation, WW2 was essentially a premature ejaculation in the leaning curve of of an elite global collective. They learned that nation-based, ‘great leader’-based fascism is highly vulnerable. Given that, I do not think that model will be repeated, except for highly limited and local incarnations.

    As great as the evidence is for Germany’s ongoing imperial ambitions, I think we make a mistake in too much focus on Germany. The urge to dominate and escape suffering by making others suffer is characteristic of all times, all peoples, and sadly, of each of us.

    It’s a crude analogy, but suppose a man named George was the first to suffer a crippling and contagious disease. Would it wiser to spend all our time analyzing George and his suspect character or would we we do better to look at the disease itself?

    Comments, please.

    Posted by Dwight | December 4, 2012, 12:02 am
  9. Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 4, 2012, 12:54 pm
  10. George Osborne just announced that Britain will self-impose an additional year of planned austerity in order to achieve its deficit targets because poor economic performance due to the planned austerity has resulted in higher than projected deficits. Yep. It will be interesting to see how the consequences of the Cameron government’s austerity fetish impacts nationalist sentiments in the UK.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 5, 2012, 9:06 am
  11. Just a reminder: Berlin views falling wages as a “structural improvement”:

    Published on 2012-11-28 17:54:24
    Exclusive: German Government Covers Up, Waters Down Poverty Report

    By Thomas Öchsner

    BERLIN – Critical passages in the German government’s latest “Poverty and Wealth Report” have been smoothed over, and critical passages have been excised, reveals Süddeutsche Zeitung.

    The newspaper was able to compare a draft version with a revised version dated Nov. 21 and released for comment by the trade unions.

    In the introduction of the report, a statement saying “Private wealth in Germany is very unevenly distributed” has been removed.

    The first draft of the “Poverty and Wealth Report,” which is released every four years by the Federal Ministry of Labor went out to members of Germany’s government in mid-September. It contained material that was critical of the status quo, including the following about salaries: “While upper-end salaries showed positive growth, in price-adjusted terms lower-end salaries went down in the past 10 years, thus increasing income disparity.” This damaged “the public sense of fairness” and could “pose a threat to social cohesion,” said the report.

    This has been replaced by statements saying that the fact that salaries went down in price-adjusted terms reflected “structural improvements” on the jobs market and that between 2007 and 2011 numerous new lower-paid fulltime jobs opened up that had enabled many of the jobless to find employment.

    The new version is also watered down with regard to single people whose hourly wage at a full-time job does not add up to enough to live on per month. The first version stated that this increased the risk of poverty and weakened the social fabric – a statement that has disappeared from the present version. All that remains is a comment that this “should be seen as critical.”

    You have to wonder what the implications of falling German wages are for the rest of the eurozone, because by the “king of the hill” logic now in place, increased competitiveness in the German economy means the rest of the eurozone economies will just have to get that much more competitive in order claw their way out of the austerity death spiral. And what could possibly go wrong with such an approach to economic harmonization? Nothing…as long as increasing poverty is defined as a “structural improvement”.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 5, 2012, 2:35 pm
  12. Secession movements:

    It’s worth becoming aware of the Pacific Northwest left-wing oriented secession movement, “Cascadia”:



    One can foresee a path for the Cascadia Movement becoming politically serious or significant, when viewed in context of the forthcoming Obama Administration response to marijuana legalization in Washington state:


    The Obama Administration will have little choice but to crackdown on Washington’s legalized marijuana. Obama’s DOJ cannot feasibly administer two different sets of rules, for the other 48 states.

    When federal Democrats crackdown on Democrats, and attempt to nullify the results of a legal election referendum in Washington State, the Cascadia Movement may get a significant boost.

    Posted by R. Wilson | December 8, 2012, 10:04 pm
  13. @R. Wilson et al, on the pot initiative… Proud times for America: Whereas silly, old-fashioned JFK sent federal troops to Mississippi, enforcing the protection of constitutional rights, Obama will have them in Seattle, shoring up the War on non-whites Drugs.

    Things will indeed get interesting. A handful of Latin American states are already more than happy to entertain notions of opting out of such a nonsensical, crime-enabling War. It will be entertaining to compare Pres. O’s vacuous soundbites, before and after the inevitable comes to pass… at least those utterances not drowned out by a hail of stage-managed small arms fire.

    Posted by Rob Coogan | December 9, 2012, 4:30 am
  14. @R. Wilson: The Cascadia movement definitely is an interesting thing for sure, but I doubt it will succeed at any time in the near future. Hell, even the neo-Confederate movement hasn’t taken off yet, and that’s about 100x more viable at this point. So I’m not worried about the Northwest breaking off at this juncture.

    @Rob C.: One thing to keep in mind is that Obama does still have to deal with the Repubs. One must wonder what they’d want to pull if Obama relented on this. Can you say “impeachment”, anyone?

    Posted by Steven L. | December 9, 2012, 1:46 pm
  15. @Rob Coogan: You’re illustrating my point exactly. Marijuana legalization is a wedge issue that will divide Democratic support for Obama, and fuel an already-existing minor secessionist movement.

    When marijuana legalization was on the ballot in California two years ago, it failed due to a right-wing effort that poured cash into advertisements — cash from outside California. Although the right-wing ads succeeded in California, no such effort was undertaken in Washington state. Why not?

    Posted by R. Wilson | December 9, 2012, 2:28 pm
  16. It looks like the Catalonian secessionist movement in Spain might get PR assists in the form of anti-secessionist neo-Nazi movements threatening violence to maintain territorial integrity. It looks like the pro-Franco and neo-Nazi groups are also getting a PR assist in the form of being somewhat popular with Spain’s ruling Popular Party:

    CS Monitor
    Franco-fascism on the march in Spain: Is the government doing enough?

    Critics say Spain’s fascist threat comes not from small groups like those set to march in Barcelona Saturday, but from the radical fringe that is part of Spain’s governing Popular Party.

    By Andrés Cala, Correspondent / October 11, 2013


    Extreme, neo-fascist groups in Spain are preparing for a show of force during this weekend’s nationalist holiday, and Spanish authorities are keeping a close eye on the situation.

    But experts worry that the real fascist concern in Spain is not from small extremist groups, but rather from growing public displays of fascist sympathies by a small part of the conservative government’s constituency – and even among elected officials.

    “Spain has not been ‘de-Francoized,’ as Germany has been de-Hitlerized,” explains Félix Ortega, a sociology professor and expert in public opinion in the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. “There are still Franco symbols even in my university!”

    An alliance of radical right groups – including violent neo-Nazi ones – have mobilized to travel from around the country to Barcelona to protest Catalonian nationalism on the October 12 “Día de la Hispanidad,” or “Hispanic Day,” holiday. Authorities said Thursday they plan to prevent violent groups from entering Catalonia.

    The holiday march is held annually, and is normally small and peaceful. But the nationalist undertones of Hispanic Day – which originally commemorated Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the American continent until was renamed in 1958 by the fascist regime of General Francisco Franco – make it a flashpoint.

    Five groups – including violent neo-Nazi cells and a political party that the Supreme Court is considering banning – in July formed a common platform called “Spain on the March.” Its leaders have warned they will resort to violent acts if required to preserve Spain’s territorial unity, which they feel threatened especially by regional independence aspirations.

    National and regional officials and security services have since increased security ahead of Saturday’s march. Barcelona authorities this week denied access to part of the route the marchers had requested in order to reduce the risk of violence and clashes with pro-independence marches.

    And in Catalonia’s parliament on Friday, the chamber passed a motion to characterize fascism, Franco, and Nazis as ideologies “inciting violence and hate” – which would have given authorities more power to prosecute them. Although members of the Popular Party, which governs Spain but is a minority in the Catalonian parliament, walked out on the motion, it ultimately passed with the support of other parties.

    The weekend march is not an isolated incident. As Catalonian plans to hold a referendum on independence move forward, the extreme right has re-energized, even if it remains small compared to the resurgent movements in Greece, France, and elsewhere.

    Last month, a dozen radicals forced their way into a library where Catalonians were commemorating their own national day, injuring several people and tearing down Catalonian symbols. Police arrested them in the aftermath.

    The real concern

    Police estimate there are about 10,000 members involved in violent extreme right groups. They lost political representation in parliament in 1982, seven years after Franco died. But they didn’t tdisappear. They melded into the now governing PP.

    The concern is not so much over the very small group of violent groups, which authorities constantly monitor. These are mostly contained, experts agree. The real problem is in from those within the government’s ruling party that sympathize ideologically – even if they condemn the use of violence.

    “I’m more concerned about complacency and permissive attitudes in the PP than I am about these reactionary groups,” Dr. Ortega says. “The PP has many faces. Is it an extreme right party? No. But the extreme right is part of the PP. And they now they have to tender complex electoral messages to different constituencies, including the extreme right.”

    Catalonian secessionist plans have united the traditionally fragmented nationalist forces and radical fascist groups. And the extreme right is part of the constituency of the conservative PP, with some experts estimating as much as 10 percent of the party sympathizes with radical ideology, although it’s impossible to contrast.

    The political heirs of Franco merged with the PP, which is ideologically a center-right party. And amid the eurocrisis, they could gain more political clout that could be significantly more dangerous than the violent groups, experts warn.

    The government has been criticized by the opposition, regional governments, and human rights groups for condoning fascist public support among its own followers – which even if small in number, were unheard of until recently – even if violent groups are suppressed.

    Such criticism arose again on Thursday, when PP legislators voted down a motion like that in the Catalonian parliament to criminalize public support for fascism, Franco, and the Nazis. The PP said the move was unnecessary, because such a ban is already implicit in the law.

    “They publicly condemn it, but they clearly tolerate it,” Ortega says.

    Franco nostalgia

    The crisis has brought an unprecedented public display of Franco nostalgia, with some public officials and members of the PP openly making the Nazi salute, displaying the former regime’s flag and other memorabilia, and posting pro-Franco messages on social media sites.

    Municipal, regional, and even country legislators have reminisced about Franco’s era, mostly subtly, though some have openly said those killed by Franco’s forces deserved it.

    On Thursday, the PP mayor of a Madrid suburb tweeted that he would send some “skinheads” to target the Socialist Party as part of a broader public debate. He later said he was just joking.

    The government and the PP leadership so far have limited their reaction to condemning violence and pro-fascist displays within its ranks. No officials have been reprimanded. “The problems are not majors or councilmen. It’s that high-ranking legislators and ministers condone this,” says Ortega.

    Additionally, the PP is trying to revise history to paint a rosy picture of the Franco dictatorship, while blaming the deposed and democratically elected left-wing government for the brutal Spanish Civil War that ended in 1938.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 13, 2013, 5:37 pm
  17. Some Spanish colleagues told me the same thing about franquists in the Partido Popular. I was suprised as I’d always thought it was a center right party. Madrid and Barcelona had their differences, but a few years ago it did not seem like a majority of Catalans would seriously consider independence. From the outside it is puzzling: Catalonia is seen a region, not a country. Things don’t look good in Spain. I find it so sad. They’re a talented, endearing people. You could see it coming, with all that growth based on the real estate market. Many Spaniards saw it coming too. “Austerity as a vehicle to break up nations”: indeed.

    Posted by de_lec | October 14, 2013, 5:50 am
  18. When your post-secession monetary policy plans are even more dangerous than joining the eurozone would be you need a new plan:

    The New York Times
    The Conscience of a Liberal

    Feb 24, 8:15 am
    Scots Wha Hae

    Paul Krugman

    I don’t have a position on Scotland becoming independent; as an American, I like my democracies big and diverse, but I also understand the frustration of Scots tied to David Cameron’s England.

    Whether it’s overall a good idea or not, however, independence would have to rest on a sound monetary foundation. And the independence movement has me worried, because what it has said on that that crucial subject seems deeply muddle-headed.

    What the independence movement says is that there’s no problem — Scotland will simply stay on the pound. That is, however, much more problematic than they seem to realize.

    It’s true, as pointed out here, that England, I mean the rump UK, I mean continuing Britain, whatever, can’t prevent the Scots from using the pound, just as the United States can’t stop Ecuador from using dollars. But the lesson of the euro crisis, surely, is that sharing a common currency without having a shared federal government is very dangerous.

    In fact, Scotland-on-the-pound would be in even worse shape than the euro countries, because the Bank of England would be under no obligation to act as lender of last resort to Scottish banks — that is, it would arguably take even less responsibility for local financial stability than the pre-Draghi ECB. And it would fall very far short of the post-Draghi ECB, which has in effect taken on the role of lender of last resort to eurozone governments, too.

    Add to this the lack of fiscal integration. The question isn’t whether Scotland would on average pay more or less in taxes if independent; probably a bit less, depending on how you handle the oil revenues. Instead, the question is what would happen if something goes wrong, if there’s a slump in Scotland’s economy. As part of the United Kingdom, Scotland would receive large de facto aid, just like a U.S. state (or Wales); if it were on its own, it would be on its own, like Portugal.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 25, 2014, 3:12 pm
  19. Posted by David M | May 29, 2014, 9:55 am
  20. It looks like the EU and eurozone might have another ‘-exit’ on their hands. But not an exit from the EU or eurozone. It’s the exit of Catalonia from the rest of Spain: the Catalan regional government wants a referendum. Spain’s courts have already ruled it illegal. But the regional government wants referendum anyway and it’s going to go ahead an hold one over the opposition of the central government in Madrid. Or at least it’s going to try:

    Politico EU

    Catalonia drafts secret secession bill: report

    Government sets out steps to independence, whether Madrid agrees to a referendum or not.

    By Saim Saeed

    5/22/17, 9:47 AM CET
    Updated 5/22/17, 5:33 PM CET

    The Catalan regional government has drafted a secret bill that is designed to oversee the Spanish region’s transition to an independent state with or without a secession referendum, El País reported Monday.

    The pro-independence Catalan government, known as the Generalitat, is currently locked in a battle with Madrid over its demands for an independence vote.

    According to El País, the Generalitat’s bill indicates it intends to move toward independence even if the Spanish government forbids it from holding a referendum. The ruling coalition promised a vote no later than September this year when it came to power in 2015.

    If the government does hold a referendum, the question will be: “Should Catalonia be a state independent from Spain?” There won’t be a minimum participation threshold and if a majority is in favor of independence, the decision will be ratified and binding.

    The Spanish constitution does not allow for secession. Earlier this year, a federal court barred the former Catalan President Artur Mas and two other former officials from public office for holding a symbolic independence referendum in 2014. The former officials were also fined thousands of euros.

    The bill would appropriate Catalonia-related cases from the national courts to the newly formed Catalan courts, which would dismiss all pending cases against people charged with independence-related illegal activities.


    “Catalonia drafts secret secession bill: report” by Saim Saeed; Politico EU; 05/22/17

    “If the government does hold a referendum, the question will be: “Should Catalonia be a state independent from Spain?” There won’t be a minimum participation threshold and if a majority is in favor of independence, the decision will be ratified and binding.”

    A binding vote won by a simple majority with no minimum participation threshold. That’s going to be view as illegal by the central government. Sounds like quite the hot mess in the making! A hot mess that’s heating up rapidly:


    Spain is bracing for rising tensions over Catalonia independence drive

    12 June 2017 13:14 CEST+02:00

    Madrid is bracing for rising tensions over Catalonia’s unilateral separatist drive, Spain’s deputy prime minister said Monday, just days after the northeastern region announced an independence referendum for October.

    Catalonia’s pro-independence executive has insisted on holding the referendum in a move strongly opposed by the central government which says it is illegal.

    On Friday, Catalonia President Carles Puigdemont said his regional government would hold the vote on October 1st in defiance of Madrid

    “We need to prepare for a strategy of tension implemented by the regional government and pro-independence parties,” Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said in a television interview.

    “They are looking to provoke and they are looking for the state to react,” said Saenz de Santamaria, who is in charge of negotiations on the matter.

    Catalonia, a wealthy region of 7.5 million people, is fiercely proud of its language and customs and has long demanded greater autonomy from Madrid.

    And while Catalans are divided on the issue, with 48.5 percent against independence and 44.3 percent in favour according to the latest regional government poll, close to three-quarters support holding a referendum.

    In February, the Constitutional Court ruled against the planned vote and warned Catalan leaders they faced repercussions if they continued with their project.

    Regional authorities face a host of challenges just to hold the referendum without Madrid’s consent, and the issue has put civil servants in Catalonia — who are needed to help organise the vote — in a delicate situation.

    If they disobey orders from their Catalan bosses, they could face disciplinary sanctions.

    But if they obey, they will go against Spanish law and also face sanctions, which may even entail losing their jobs.

    “You can disobey and assume the consequences,” Saenz de Santamaria said.

    “But what you can’t do is force civil servants trying to do their job as best they can to break the law.”


    “Spain is bracing for rising tensions over Catalonia independence drive”; AFP; 06/12/2017

    “On Friday, Catalonia President Carles Puigdemont said his regional government would hold the vote on October 1st in defiance of Madrid

    And Catalonia’s President makes it official. Unofficially official in the eyes of the federal government, but official for Catalonia. So between now and when the vote is scheduled to happen in October, Spain is going to find itself in a new existential crisis. Especially the civil servants expected to actually implement the referendum. A referendum that 3/4 of Catalans want to see happen but is against Spanish law:

    And while Catalans are divided on the issue, with 48.5 percent against independence and 44.3 percent in favour according to the latest regional government poll, close to three-quarters support holding a referendum.

    Regional authorities face a host of challenges just to hold the referendum without Madrid’s consent, and the issue has put civil servants in Catalonia — who are needed to help organise the vote — in a delicate situation.

    If they disobey orders from their Catalan bosses, they could face disciplinary sanctions.

    But if they obey, they will go against Spanish law and also face sanctions, which may even entail losing their jobs.

    Who to follow? The answer isn’t entirely obvious for Catalan civil servants. But they’re going to have to come up with an answer to that question soon. Which is part of what makes this comment from Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister so chilling: the central government is fearing “a strategy of tension”:

    “We need to prepare for a strategy of tension implemented by the regional government and pro-independence parties,” Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said in a television interview.

    They are looking to provoke and they are looking for the state to react,” said Saenz de Santamaria, who is in charge of negotiations on the matter.

    They are looking to provoke and they are looking for the state to react

    It’s generally not a good sign when phrases associated with Operation Gladio get used to describe your country’s emerging situation. But for Catalonian civil servants, that’s the situation. And the proposals by Catalonia’s legislature to remove the region from Spain’s legal system and mandate all civil servants follow regional law only under threat of sanctions won’t necessarily make that question any easier to answer:


    Catalan public workers caught in referendum crossfire

    By Daniel Bosque
    10 June 2017 09:24 CEST+02:00

    Whose orders to follow? Civil servants in Catalonia may not know which way to turn if the Spanish region holds an independence referendum that Madrid deems illegal.

    Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia’s fiercely secessionist president, announced on Friday that he would go ahead with a vote on October 1st despite Madrid’s opposition, drawing a sharp rebuke from Spain’s central government – and concern from public workers.

    They will be called upon to organize a referendum which the Constitutional Court has ruled is unlawful, by carrying out such steps as opening schools to serve as polling stations, or policing the 7.5-million-strong region in Spain’s northeast.

    As a result, they may be forced into a delicate position – having to choose between obeying their immediate superiors and facing possible sanctions for disobeying Spanish law, or sticking by the Constitution.

    Not risking ‘my salary’

    In Catalonia, like in the rest of Spain, civil servants are first and foremost under obligation to respect Spain’s Constitution.

    If they disobey orders by their Catalan bosses, they could face disciplinary sanctions.

    But if they obey, they will go against Spanish law and will therefore face sanctions, which may even entail losing their jobs.

    Josep Miquel Milagros, an agent in Catalonia’s Mossos d’Esquadra police force, summed up the situation: “I’m pro-independence but I’m not going to risk my salary.”

    The 17,000-strong Mossos d’Esquadra force is under the control of the regional government but is also bound to respect Spanish law.

    “We could find ourselves between a rock and a hard space,” says Milagros, who is also spokesman for the USPAC police union.

    “As police officers, we have to obey the law, we have no other choice.”

    Disconnection law

    Exactly how Catalonia is going to go against Madrid and organise a referendum deemed illegal by the courts remains unclear.

    In a bid to circumvent all the legal and practical challenges in organising such a vote, the regional government has drafted a law seeking to extract Catalonia from Spain’s legal system.

    It is expected to present the bill in the next few weeks to the regional parliament, where pro-independence lawmakers have an absolute majority.

    The law will in theory force all civil servants who work in Catalonia to obey the regional government come what may, further raising the stakes for public workers.

    “Those who don’t obey will be sanctioned,” pro-independence lawmaker Lluis Llach said recently at a conference.

    However, just like the referendum itself, the law will likely be suspended by the Constitutional Court.

    On Friday, Spain’s government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo said Catalonia’s regional executive was not only under obligation to respect the law and protect the rights of all Catalans, but also “preserve the neutrality of all Catalan civil servants.”

    And the central government has more drastic ways to stop the referendum.

    It can ask the Constitutional Court to suspend Puigdemont for disobedience, or it has the power to take temporary control of the regional government, even if this would be a last resort.


    “Catalan public workers caught in referendum crossfire” by Daniel Bosque; AFP; 06/10/2017

    “In a bid to circumvent all the legal and practical challenges in organising such a vote, the regional government has drafted a law seeking to extract Catalonia from Spain’s legal system.”

    And if civil servants don’t follow regional rules after that bill passes, they get sanctioned:

    It is expected to present the bill in the next few weeks to the regional parliament, where pro-independence lawmakers have an absolute majority.

    The law will in theory force all civil servants who work in Catalonia to obey the regional government come what may, further raising the stakes for public workers.

    “Those who don’t obey will be sanctioned,” pro-independence lawmaker Lluis Llach said recently at a conference.

    So that might persuade some civil servants. Sanctions will do that.

    But then again, even if the regional government passes that bill and removes Catalonia from the rest of Spain’s legal system, it’s not like those civil servants don’t have to worry about the central government’s response, which might include marching in and taking temporary control of the region:

    However, just like the referendum itself, the law will likely be suspended by the Constitutional Court.

    On Friday, Spain’s government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo said Catalonia’s regional executive was not only under obligation to respect the law and protect the rights of all Catalans, but also “preserve the neutrality of all Catalan civil servants.”

    And the central government has more drastic ways to stop the referendum.

    It can ask the Constitutional Court to suspend Puigdemont for disobedience, or it has the power to take temporary control of the regional government, even if this would be a last resort.

    “It can ask the Constitutional Court to suspend Puigdemont for disobedience, or it has the power to take temporary control of the regional government, even if this would be a last resort.”

    Yep, at the same time we have the Deputy Prime Minister warning people that the regional Catalonian government might implement a “strategy of tension”, we’re getting reminders that the central government does indeed have the right to temporarily take control of the region as a last resort.

    Feeling tense yet?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 12, 2017, 3:17 pm

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