26 January 2015

The new party system in Greece
                                       Click on it for larger size


Guillem Lopez-Casanovas said...
bravo  Ben vist!
Records  Et veig en forma!
Professor of Economics
Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Rein Taagepera said...
This makes it tough for government formation.
I vaguely recall that Greek law requires majority cabinets.
It' hilarious to find Communists on the anti-international side.

20 January 2015

The Emperor Addresses the Capitol
In the Roman imperial city of Washington, full of temples and monuments to the Caesars of the glorious past, the Emperor-President, with all pomp and ceremony addresses the Senate (and the House). In a moment of patriotic union, the members of Congress unanimously applaud, bow and revere.
From The Washington Post:
“The pomp and scale that surrounds Washington is a skeleton of the past. That’s not meant to refer solely to the architecture, the fake-it-till-you-make-it pretensions of a young country written in marble. It refers to much of the pageantry that we still embrace, beyond modern utility or necessity. It refers, to be direct, to the State of the Union address.
“In 1789, it was perhaps useful to remind the president of the importance of keeping Congress (then numbering fewer than 100 people) up to speed on what was happening in the nation on the whole…. President Woodrow Wilson began the idea of giving those updates in a speech, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt made the State of the Union a spectacle. And once a spectacle is begun in Washington, it’s got inertia.
“We have the speech because it is Tradition, and that Tradition reflects the Importance of the Office. So Obama walks onto the House floor, passing through an effusive crowd of legislators as they imagine themselves making that same walk, and the Great Spectacle of Washington is upheld.”
(January 19, 2015, by Philip Bump)
A moment of Unanimity
Democrat President Obama, Democrat President of the Senate Biden, Republican Speaker of the House Boehner. 

Republican President Bush, Republican President of the Senate Cheney, Democrat Speaker of the House Pelosi.

On the Monarchical Origins of Presidentialism - CLICK

If you have any influence in such matters, please see what you can do about introducing togas to the spectacle :)
Jennifer Draut
Fairfax, VA, USA

There is, indeed, a continuity from monarchy to the president of the US, as in other presidential government systems as well (France for example), especially the president’s role as the nation’s representative. However, I am not so sure about what you call the “Roman imperial city of Washington, full of temples and monuments to the Caesars of the glorious past”. Many ‘founding fathers' (as well as the so-called Latin American ‘liberators’), when thinking about establishing a new body politic, discussed both 17th and 18th century theorists (Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau etc.) and antique models. In the latter case they normally referred to the Greek and Roman polities or republics, not the Roman empire or Roman emperors. While the original capitol in Rome has both a monarchical and republican tradition, modern capitols, especially in the Americas (EEUU, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico), refer to republics. Jefferson, for instance, insisted placing in the capitol the parliament, not the president. Something similar is true, by the way, for obeliscs, which have monarchical references and can be somewhat tricky symbols: the obelisc of Buenos Aires is on the ‘Plaza de la República’!
Christian Hausser
Universidad de Talca, Chile

08 January 2015

Pour Wolinski et les autres...

Georges Wolinski's self-portrait 
when he was awarded the Legion d'Honneur


Jp Ma, Li dedicaré un breu enregistrament al gran Wolinski a la ràdio. Amb els assassinats de Charlie Hebdo cal pensar que hi manca una teoria de jocs... bruts. Maquiavel ja va començar-la.

I like your most recent blog post. I hadn't seen Wolinski's self-portrait before...it is charming.
Washington, DC

muy buen blog!
q pena lo q ha pasado
Pedro Gete
Washington, DC

23 December 2014

Maurice Duverger
One of the very first books in political science that I read, when I was college student, was Maurice Duverger’s Institutions politiques et droit constitutionnel (Presses Universitaires de France-PUF, 1970), although the book, in French, was not in any course recommendation list. With that book I discovered and was very impressed about the possibility to analyze the political systems of different countries by classifying and comparing their institutions in what looked like something very close to what a social science should be. About thirty years later I published a book which was intended to be titled Political Institutions and Social Choice, in homage to Duverger and also to mark the different influences in political studies from law and from economics at different periods (although the title was slightly ‘edited’ by the publisher); Duverger was one of the most cited authors in the book (together with Lijphart, Linz and Riker): CLICK
     I first met Duverger in person in 1988 when he was invited to give the inaugural lecture of the academic year at the Political Science program (directed by Josep M. Valles) of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, where I was teaching. To celebrate the occasion, I published an article in the local newspaper, Diari de Barcelona, with the title “Founding Father of Political Science”, next to the announcement of the event, which he waved at the beginning of his lecture. I met him again when I was a visiting professor at the Institute d’Etudes Politiques, aka SciencesPo, in Paris, some years later, in 1996. Duverger was doubtless the most worldwide famous and influential French political scientist, but he had never been well accommodated to SciencesPo’s people and was working in a small research institute more or less custom-made for him. Then he discovered to me two books edited by him on the basis of previously organized conferences with outstanding selections of historians and political scientists, again in French and never translated, which would also be extremely influential in my work: Les régimes semi-présidentiels (PUF 1986), which placed the French case in a broad comparative perspective, and Le Concept d’Empire (PUF 1980), on a largely overlooked subject which became the first reference cited in my booklet Great Empires, Small Nations: CLICK.
    Finally, I dared to write an article with the subtitle ”Duverger’s Laws Upside Down”, where I held that it’s the parties that choose electoral systems rather than the other way around: CLICKFrom the very first paragraph of the article I mentioned, however, that this line of causality makes sense precisely because, according to Duverger’s laws, the electoral systems have strong influence on the configuration of party systems, and it’s on this basis that party leaders and other politicians can anticipate the consequences of their choices of institutional rules. I also observed that Duverger has noticed this double line of interaction, although briefly, as when he mentioned that “the first effect of proportionality is to maintain an already existing multiplicity”. This was hinted at not only in the chapter of his book Political Parties, which has been the basic Duverger’s reference for English-speakers, but especially in his previous article in French, L’influènce des systèmes électoraux sur la vie politique (Cahiers de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, 16, Paris: Armand Colin, 1950), which contains a very rich amount of information, analyses and suggestions (and which I made to translate into Spanish in a selection of “ten basic texts of political science”: CLICK).
   Maurice Duverger was one of the greatest names in 20th century political science, as well as a close “participating observer” in constitutional and political matters in France and in the European Parliament. This video of him talking on TV about the revolt of 1968 shows an example of the latter side of his activity: CLICK


Some videos with Duverger
Best regards
Annie Laurent

Universite de Lille 2

Vidéos avec Maurice Duverger
• Sur l’élection du Président de la République (1965) CLICK
• Sur le projet de loi anti casseurs(24 avril 1970) CLICK
• Emission d’Apostrophe «Avez-vous le sens de l’Etat». Commentaires de Duverger sur son livre: Lettre aux socialistes (28 mai 1976) CLICK
• A propos de son livre : L’autre côté des choses (4 avril 1977: explication sur son passage à l’extrême droite –Doriot) CLICK
• Sur l’absentéisme  des députés, dénoncé par le FN (12 octobre 1987)  CLICK
• Sur la personnalité de Montesquieu  CLICK

Josep Mª, Ben fet perquè els obituaris de Duverger que surten per aquí fan pemna. De tota manera el popularitzava don Manuel Jiménez de Parga que es pènsava que era molt progre fer.ho. Tambés els comunistes dels anys 60. Bon Nadal. Abraçades, Salvador Giner

21 December 2014

As published in the daily El Pais:
Descend, efficient Europe

"Intervene. O descend as a dove or
a furious papa or a mild engineer, but descend."
W. H. Auden, Spain (1937)

In order to understand the current political instability and uncertainty in several European countries, we should realize that after six or seven years of economic crisis the European Union is stronger and more efficient than ever. The Union has more member-states and more candidates than before; the euro has not only not broken down, against many odds, but has expanded to new countries; the Commission now controls the states’ fiscal policy and takes the initiative to lead investments on infrastructure for growth; the banking union moves forward and the European Central Bank is more active than expected just a couple of years ago; even the common foreign policy is taking steps forward.
    Many reactions against "a closer union", as put by the founding Treaty of Rome, are of traditionalist type, in defense of state powers that have already ceased working. Many citizens of the oldest and most successful large national states, that is, Great Britain and France, seem to retain the pride and memory of historic achievements and support parties that yearn the past, respectively the UK Independence Party and the National Front. At the same time, the southern periphery risks being left behind the increasing continental integration, so in Italy, Greece and Spain many disappointed people resort to protest-parties that blame the euro, the troika and globalization, as Cinque Stelle, Syriza and Podemos. At the same time, in some territories emerge the illusion of separation from large states that have lost power in order to start a new journey, as in Scotland and Catalonia. What all these disparate movements have in common is that they would like to restore state and nation, economic and political sovereignty. Fortunately, thanks to modern means of communication and transport, as well as the European institutions, sovereignties have ceased to exist.
    The great nineteenth century English constitutionalist, Walter Bagehot, analyzed comparable processes during the building of the American Union, namely the United States of America. The states are no longer sovereign –he noted—but they attract the loyalty of the people and are "prerequisites" to run the whole system. They are, as the current European states, "dignified parts" that people still voluntarily obey because they retain "historical and theatrical" elements in their political ceremonies, including parties and elections for recruitment of personnel. But the "efficient" parts, which, in fact, work and rule, are in the nascent Union, which he recognized as "new and unattractive" yet. This also happens in today's Europe, where state democracies support the selection of rulers for the Union, but it’s the latter that makes many relevant decisions and that governs, in part, indirectly through state and local governments. Indeed, as also noted Bagehot, the Union concedes certain subordinate powers to the states, while it takes some ceremonial, dignifying elements for itself, but only as a supplement to the main design. (…)
    Emerging from the crisis requires adopting the efficient model of the European Union also at state level. First of all, state rulers and representatives should share and participate in public policies developed in Brussels and Frankfurt. Second, partisan confrontation should be replaced with super-majority coalition governments, following the example of the Union itself, as well as of Germany and other countries in the heart of the continent, in order to make European consensus policies implemented at state level. This has been the way in Greece, where conservatives and socialists govern together and seek the reinstatement of the country to the European economic dynamics, as well as in Italy, where, after two years of governments of competent and independent experts, the center-left and the center-right also govern together and regain electoral support. Rather than states dignified with traditional rites, the solution is the European model of consensus and efficiency. Although perhaps it is, as the American Union at the time was, still "new and unattractive", the European Union works and rules.
See longer version in Spanish, in El Pais: CLICK

The Surrealist Political History of Europe
3' minute video: CLICK on the map:

11 December 2014

The Year 2014

in a 3 minute video
United States gridlock, German Europe, Dual Ukraine, Spain's shipwreck, Bolivarian revolution...


Happier New Year!


Rein Taagepera said...
University of California, Irvine

Jack Santucci said...
I enjoyed your 2014 video. Quite wry.

Blanca Heredia said...
Está buenísimo...felicidades!
Cide, Mexico city

Jorge Dezcallar said...
Muy bueno tu video! Me he reído con él, que buena falta nos hace.
Ambassador of Spain, Majorca

Angel Gil-Ordonez said...
♪♪ I want to be in AMERICAAAA...♪♪

28 November 2014

How Global Institutions Rule the World
Josep M. Colomer

"In this thoughtful and thought-provoking book, Josep Colomer demonstrates that effective institutions of global governance exist. A single world government is neither possible nor desirable. But it is also unnecessary. Instead, a number of effective institutions already carry out essential functions of world governance. Moreover, in spite of worries about "democratic deficits", those institutions are able to meet the essential requirements of an effective democracy: representation, competence, consensus, and accountability."                                                                         Martin Wolf, Chief Economist, Financial Times
“What is democracy if national governments must bow to specialized global agencies? Colomer superbly demonstrates that we already face faceless dispersed regulation that is even stranger than a unified 'world government' would be. And he offers intriguing insights into what this means for the world's democratic institutions.”                                                                                             Rein Taagepera, research professor of political science at the University of California, Irvine, and recipient of the Johan Skytte Prize.

Does world government actually exist? 
Are the current global institutions efficient in making decisions? 
Can they be compatible with basic democratic principles?

Introduction: World Government Is Here
The world is governed by global institutions dealing with security, finance, development, trade, communications, environment, crimes against humanity; institutional design is crucial for efficient and democratic global government.

Part i: Who Rules

Network Goods Are Served by Simple Bureaus
Great powers, neutral countries, and small gatherings of scientists and technicians efficiently provide global standards for time, measures, and communication networks.

Unanimity Rule Failed to Make the World More Secure
The League of Nations, by making decisions by unanimity, was a big failure, and the United States could not have done anything about it.

A Great-Powers’ Directorate Has Averted the Third World War
The United Nations, by giving veto power to five great powers, has been able, in spite of many failures, to prevent a new major global conflict and to foster multilateral cooperation.

Weights and Coalitions for Finance and Development
The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, by using complex institutional formulas such as weighted votes and qualified majorities, have been able to create policy consensus and adapt to periods of both depression and growth.

Equal Vote Does Not Favor Global Trade
The World Trade Organization, which intends to make decisions on equal vote for every country, has been paralyzed for decades and has not been able to promote any new world trade agreement.

The World’s Self-Appointed Steering Committee
The Group of Eight has established a new world’s directorate that deals with boundless agendas and implements its decisions through states, regional unions, and international organizations.

Part II: How They Rule

Domestic Politics Does not Make Policy
State-based political systems and partisan governments are losing capability to make policy decisions; in many countries, broad multiparty coalitions or nonpartisan, technical experts implement the directives of international organizations.

Global Representation Requires Rotation of Countries
The principle of equal vote for every country is both undemocratic and ineffective, while rotation of countries can induce broad international cooperation.

Effective Decisions Are Made by Means of Weighted Votes
The allocation of weighted votes to different countries 
and the formation of multi-country coalitions
can facilitate decision-making in global councils and boards.

Expert Rulers Replace Politicians and Diplomats
International and global organizations rely on independent bodies of nonelected experts to make decisions on major issues; many officials are recruited with criteria of political independence, technical expertise, and honest behavior.

Policy Consensus Is Built with More Ideas Than Votes
Global institutions make policy by consensual knowledge, by nonobjection compromises, and by ascertaining the sense of the meeting, rather than by voting.

Nonelectoral Accountability Is Based on Performance and Values
Heads, high officers, and staff of global institutions are made accountable through transparent information, evaluation of performance, ethic standards, and sanctions.


Can Global Democracy Exist?
Democracy is a form of government based on social consent; 
it can be operationalized with different institutional formulas, 
including the people’s assembly in small cities, party elections in states, and accountable institutions at the global level.

READ Chapter 1:  CLICK

BUY the book:  CLICK

13 November 2014

Homage to Looks and Brains:
Hedy Lamarr
Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr, whose centennial is celebrated these days, was claimed to be “the most beautiful woman in the world”. She starred in more than thirty movies, but she turned down some, including Casablanca and Gaslight, basically because she didn’t read scripts as she was busy with her engineering inventions. The most outstanding one was the frequency-hopped spread spectrum, initially conceived to prevent American torpedoes from being intercepted by the Germans during the Second World War. Her basic idea of randomly changing radio frequencies supports nowadays all wireless communications, including remote controls, global positions systems (gps), cell phones and many other crucial devices. In her natal Austria, as well as in Germany and Switzerland, the birthday on Hedy Lamarr, November 9, is celebrated as the Inventor’s Day.

Among her best comedies:
·   H.M. Pulham, Esq. (by King Vidor)
·   Come Live with Me (with James Stewart)
·   Dishonored Lady (probably her best).

And with political intrigue:
·   Algiers (an inspiration for Casablanca, with Charles Boyer)
·   The Conspirators (a replica of Casablanca, with supporting actor Paul Heinreid as main star)
·   Comrade X (about spies in the Soviet Union, with Clark Gable).

Watch 4' video about her life voyage: 


Bernard Grofman said...
Josep, Thanks for the Hedy Lamarr tribute. She certainly deserves it, and I will see if I can find one of her classics to watch online. 
Hope all is well with you. 
University of California, Irvine

Salvador Giner said...
Please send Miss Hedy Lamarr to me as a PhD candidate. Most welcome. 
For more info, watch Blazing Saddles, the immortal movie.

06 November 2014

Memories of Berlin, 
Before and After the Wall
On the 25th anniversary of the fall
The metro from West Berlin crosses without stopping several underground stations in the eastern part, all bricked up and each with an East German soldier stationed in utter solitude and gloom, who is supposed to prevent against possible attempts of boarding the train by fugitives. At the border control, still underground and between large bars, the guard examining my Spanish passport gives me a tirade about the heroes of the International Brigades in the Civil War, which I guess I'm supposed to admire. When I surface to the spacious Friedrichstrasse, I suddenly feel to have travelled a century back. A vast silence, very few people walking down the streets, almost no vehicles, no advertising on the facades. Only a few slogans hang from ledges of large buildings with wishes of long life to communism, marxism-leninism and the GDR (German Democratic Republic). There is a forbidden to step area on the outskirts of the Brandenburg Gate. At Alexanderplatz, in front the huge iron and glass building of the Palace of the Republic, I hear three men speaking Spanish and I dare to ask them how I could ascend to the communications tower; two of them turn out to be Cubans, as I suppose it was logical to imagine, but they immediately step back and let the other, blond and taller, who is clearly their supervisor and guide, to inquire me about my intentions. A few streets away from the large blocks of flats on Stalin Allee, which pretend to be standards of the socialist modernization of the sixties, emerge the typical dirt, poverty and dilapidated houses that seem substantial to the countries of real socialism. Further away still, all the world records of air pollution are beat due to chemical plants and the use of the worst kind of lignite one could find in Europe, with which a planned but still savage industrialization has been boosted. At the monument to the victims of fascism and militarism, soldiers stand guard by alternating rigid immobility with ceremonial Prussian goose steps. While waiting for the tramway at the suburbs, I talk to a group of young people whose faces of despair far exceed those of the punks and subsidized artists of the western Kreuzberg who boast of "no future"; these don’t even have drug evasion available and they don’t even reach to turn their sarcasm into humor. I cross back the wall on foot through the Checkpoint Charlie, where guards located above the watchtowers urge me with gestures and shouting to hurry up. At the first corner in the western part is the museum of the wall, which continues adding brutal images of eastern fugitives via tunneling, by jumping from windows to a canvas, flying in inflatable balloons, navigating by homemade submarines, or by racing in rudimentarily armored cars.

There is a real boulder industry around the Berlin Wall. Groups of Germans and Turks, transformed into woodpeckers with escarpment and hammer, are draining the mason resources of the western facade. For four or five marks any tourist can buy a bag with a dozen pieces of painted concrete and an authenticity "zertifikat". The processing of the souvenirs begins inside the western wall, until recently inaccessible because it faced an extensive no man's land between two parallel strips of stone. These stonecutters have proceeded to a careful distribution of the wall into numbered plots and industrious groups of workers have divided tasks: some daub with aerosolized buntings, mimicking the colors of the anti communist, hopeless or love graffiti that decorated the western side of the wall, others chop this newly colored stones, others pack boulders, and others ultimately bring the bags to the distribution stalls. Not only is the wall that it’s sold at bargain prices in the western part of Berlin. Uniforms and hats of policemen and East German and Soviet soldiers, medals and military decorations of their commanders, brochures with speeches by communist bigwigs, manuals of marxism-leninism, copies of an official portrait of Soviet boss Brezhnev and East German Honecker heavily kissing each other on the mouth under their hats, flags with the coat with the workers’ hammer and the technological compass that replaces the Russian peasants’ sickle, that is, all objects that monopolized the image of the eastern part of Germany are being sold today in the streets like bargains in the process of extinction.
To the left and the right of the wall on closing-down sale, the picture is asymmetrical. On the one side, immigration of workers. On the other side, foreign capital investment.
It only takes to peek at Ku Damm –until now the stunning shopping center of the western part-- to observe the massive presence of fugitives and visitors from the East. Poorly dressed and in re-concentrated expression of amazement before the luxurious and provocative windows full of jewelry, clothing and food, they walk with their carry bags or boxes and hold radios and video recorders that some will resale in the eastern part. The vast majority of young easterners seem to have thought that, as it read a banner at the demonstrations a few weeks ago, "Life is too short to spend it in the GDR." The Poles, whose border is only thirty miles from Berlin, are also particularly active in the trade. At Bernburgerstrasse, Turks and counterculture young people hold a daily outdoor market were the Polish try to sell trinkets, virgins of Czestochova and old furniture, in addition to contraband tobacco and alcohol, in order to collect federal marks and take with them oranges, coffee and electrical appliances, which are scarce in the eastern lands. Thousands of people cross every day the Oder Neisse border and twice the controls in East Berlin to pursue this task.
The other way around, the western private sector is tiring down barriers in the Eastern part. There is a new atmosphere of hustle and nonchalance in the streets. Plenty of American and European tourists stroll all over; groups of businessmen from the West, all with their wallet in hand and a distinctive aspect of well-fed people, run the streets quickly; along with the usual motion of modest Trabant cars of East residents, one can now easily go across a swanky Mercedes convertible with the radio full blast; groups of unemployed youth offer illegal currency exchange under the indifferent gaze of the police; children try to stretch the boot buckle of the occasional soldier and to touch his gun. Dozens of commercial signage and illuminated advertising of companies from West Germany sparkle, while many shops have been opened on the ground floor. Siemens and Bosch live in walking distance to the Deutsche Bank, Hoechst and Volkswagen as visible expressions of the takeover bid of East Germany by western companies. Some commercial advertising campaigns also convey a political message. The Struyvesant cigarettes use a slogan in English, "Come Together", which appeared on the banners of festive assailants of the wall a few weeks ago. Another brand has flooded the city with billboards and vans with a simple and strong message, also in the international language: "Test the West". Unified Berlin is going to become, again, the core of Germany, and a unified Germany may find itself at the core of Europe rather soon.

29 October 2014

Who was the median voter 
in Brazil?
The answer is: the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro, PMDB). Many people may not have heard much of this party recently because the party didn’t run a presidential candidate on its own. But, as always, it’s the median voter's and the median seat party and the king-maker (that is, the president-maker). The opposite of the parliamentary kings, the PMDB doesn’t reign but it rules.

The crucial role of the PMDB is very clear in the parliamentary election, which is held by proportional representation. The PMDB obtained only 11 % of votes (66 seats), but, on its left, the direct supporters of the incumbent president Dilma Rousseff plus the far left received 47% of votes (238 seats), while the center and right parties received in total 42% of votes (209 seats), thus leaving, as usual, the PMDB in the pivotal position capable of making a majority on any of the two sides.

The PMDB is the continuator of the official opposition during the last years of the military dictatorship in the 1970s. In the first open presidential election in 1985, which was held by means of an electoral college, the PMDB candidate, Tancredo Neves, was chosen president, and at his early death was replaced by his running mate Jose Sarney from the same party. However, the PMDB has not run presidential candidates on its own in most direct presidential elections since the 1990s. As typical of some anti-dictatorial parties, the PMDB is a catch-all party, which groups together a large range of politicians, coordinates diverse regional groups, and obtains the support of not very ideological voters. Today it is the Brazilian party with the largest number of affiliates.  It has elected higher numbers of governors, senators and deputies at state level than any of the other major parties in the last election. The PMDB has participated in most presidential cabinets with presidents of different parties. The current leader of the PMDB, Michel Temer, was a long-term chairman of the Chamber of Deputies and has most recently been vice-president of the republic with president Rousseff, with whom he ran for reelection a few days ago.

The crucial role of the PMDB in the recent presidential election may have been disguised. By looking at the three major candidates, Rousseff of the Workers’ Party (PT) on the left, Marina Silva of the Socialist Party (PSB) on the center-left, and Aécio Neves of the Social Democracy Party (PSDB) on the center-right, it may seem that Silva was the median voter's candidate at the first round. Actually some PMDB voters may have voted for Silva, and even a few for Neves (especially in the state of Rio Grande do Sul), at the first round. The vacillations of PMDB voters may be a major explanation for the survey polls that during a few weeks predicted that Silva would pass to the second round. If this had happened, most likely Marina Silva would have been elected president of Brazil. But Neves’ stronger campaign placed him on second place. At the second round, as Silva had been eliminated, most PMDB voters chose Rousseff and their party’s vice-presidential candidate and made them the winners.

As usual, president Rousseff will need the support of a multiparty majority in Congress and, as usual too, the PMDB will be pivotal for attaining such a goal.

23 October 2014

The Catalan Divorce

As published in the Financial Times (Oct. 23) CLICK

Emotional partner’s plea to remember good times

Sir, Antonio Muñoz Molina tries to persuade Catalans not to choose independence from Spain by emphasising how much they have in common with each other (“Catalans have as much in common with the Spanish as with each other”, October 16). It sounds to me like an emotional reaction from a partner when the other asks for divorce: remembering how happy he thinks they were some time ago and what good times they had spent together over the years of marriage. I don’t think any Catalan would be persuaded nowadays by this type of argument.
The only possible salvation may come by negotiating a new arrangement, something like, say, “We will keep living in the same house, but I will have more free time for myself, we will share expenses in a fairer way” and so on. This might work in the current case because Catalonia doesn’t even know where she would spend the first night after the divorce – not even under the bridge of the European Union.

Josep M Colomer
Professor, Georgetown University,
Washington, DC, US


Juan Díez Medrano said…
Buen comentario! Absurdas las llamadas al sentimentalismo. Pensar que pueden funcionar es estúpido.
Chair Council for European Studies
Professor Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Rosemarie Nagel said…
Why does nobody really bring up more federalistic thoughts.. How can one be for independence when there are other possibilities...
Yes, stay in the same house… and divide the kitchen (culture), the bath (local networks), etc...
Professor Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona

Gustau Alegret said…
Agree... tot i que això del pont té gràcia, si pensem que continuar dormint al mateix llit amb l'espòs pot ser pitjor.

Antoni Bosch said…
The main reason why it is so difficult to get to talk to the Spanish citizens opposed to Catalonia’s independence is because of their misrepresentation of what is happening. Antonio Muñoz Molina, a sophisticated critic, has preferred to combine misrepresentations with truths.  That “Catalans have much in common with the Spanish” there is no doubt. So what?  That Catalans “are dreaming up future borders with Spain”, it depends. Certainly not borders different from the ones that exist now between Spain and France. In fact, the only threats of erecting borders come from those in Spain opposed to Catalan independence (they insist they will kick Catalonia out of the EU). That “there is a lot to be gained by keeping national passions to a minimum”,  I could not agree more. But I disagree when, by implication, this wise comment is directed only to Catalan nationalists. Perhaps, using Muñoz words, the long-lasting ties are going to be “severed” and Catalans are going to “break” free. But, using now my own words, ties could be “dissolved” and Catalans could “detach” freely.  It all depends on whether the divorce is contested or collaborative. Antonio Muñoz Molina would be most helpful by writing in the Madrid press in favour of a collaborative divorce.
Antoni Bosch-Domenech
Professor Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona

Matt Qvortrup said
Dear Josep
Most interesting indeed.
So is the referendum going ahead? What is the latest?
Apropos your blog you may find my article interesting.
Best wishes
“While some scholars dispute it, secessions and the creation of new states, can be likened to political divorce settlements. And like the breaking up of families, secessions can be amicable and constructive or they can be bitter, drawn-out and acrimonious. Some countries, like families, fight lengthy battles. Others simply move on and let bygones be bygones...” READ
Also: Author of Referendums and Ethnic Conflict CLICK

Guillem Lopez Casasnovas said…
Bravo!   Em sona!! 
Professor of Economics, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Ivan Bofarull said...
Actually, one of the most celebrated Financial Times reporters, Gideon Rachman, summarized the Spanish government strategy with the Catalan issue, citing another metaphor that has to do with marriage:
“No marriage can survive simply by declaring divorce illegal”
(Financial Times, Oct 15, 2012)
Esade, Barcelona