Today the Parliament of Catalonia declared independence from Spain, a move Spain declares illegal. It is the first contested independence declaration in Western Europe since Sinn Fein declared the Irish Republic in 1919.(*) In an effort to understand the positions of both sides, I have created a dialogue between two imaginary characters, both Catalan. Gemma … Continue reading Dialogue on Catalan Independence
Over at Learn Liberty, I take up the question of what the rest of the world should do if Catalonia's referendum on independence on October 1 succeeds, as is expected. I apply some straightforward assumptions about justice and individual freedom to the case. Secession is hard because it always involves violating some people's rights -- … Continue reading Should the U.S. Recognize Catalonia If It Secedes from Spain?
Last year, I offered a bet that if an election were held this year in Catalonia, Catalan independentist parties would win a majority of valid, nonblank votes. One was, and they didn't. The only person to take me up on the bet was Bernat Gispert, who bet me dinner next time I'm in Barcelona, hoping … Continue reading In Which I Lose a Bet
On September 27, Catalonia, an "autonomous community" of Spain, votes in a regional election that will likely determine whether the region declares independence from Spain. The Economist and other global news outlets have generally not taken the movement very seriously, which is a grave mistake. According to a series of new polls, the independentists are … Continue reading Why Catalan Independence Might Be Good for the World
I don't blog much here anymore, in part because I've been too busy with Ethics & Economics Education, and in part because I find it easier to share quick thoughts on Twitter. Here's a little tweetstorm I had recently on Catalonia's independence vote next month: We might get crossover between Podemos & Ciudadanos soon. https://t.co/uiRhOp02gL— … Continue reading Why Has Catalonia’s Independence Movement Lost Steam?
My paper on the political philosophy of secession is now out in Public Affairs Quarterly, an open-access journal. Read it here. Teaser: The United Kingdom currently sets the gold standard for management of secessionist politics. The British and Scottish governments negotiated in good faith over the terms of the independence referendum that Scotland held on … Continue reading Legal Regimes for Secession: Applying Moral Theory and Empirical Findings
Catalan President Artur Mas gave a major speech tonight, which fortunately Liz Castro live-translated on Twitter. To review, here's where we are now: Catalonia held an informal plebiscite on independence on November 9, which the Constitutional Court had suspended, and 81% of voters supported independence. The Spanish state has refused to negotiate any constitutional revision … Continue reading Catalan President Lays Out Road Map to Independence
Participation in the November 9 "participatory process" in Catalonia exceeded my expectations. According to reports, 2.3 million people participated in a nonbinding vote organized by volunteers, a figure that would amount to over 40% of the electorate. (No electoral roll was used for this election because of Spanish Constitutional Court rulings prohibiting the support of … Continue reading What Next for Catalonia?
Last week I was in Barcelona for two days, giving a talk at an event on "the right to decide," sponsored by the Centre Maurits Coppieters (nonprofit arm of the European Free Alliance, the European Parliament group for ideologically mainstream minority nationalist parties) and by the Fundació Josep Irla (nonprofit arm of the Catalan Republican … Continue reading Dispatch from Catalonia
On Friday the 17th of October I will be speaking at the annual conference of the Josep Irla Foundation in Barcelona, Catalonia. The theme of the conference is "Catalonia's right to decide." I will be in town Thursday and Friday and would enjoy meeting with any Pileus readers while I am there. Please contact me … Continue reading Speaking This Week at Barcelona Conference on the Right to Decide
Ten days ago, the Washington Post published an op-ed of mine on whether the United States will ever see a strong secession movement like that in Scotland. I took the "yes" position and also took the opportunity to boost the Free State Project, while also making clear that it does not support secession. While it's … Continue reading Will the U.S. Ever See a Strong Secession Movement?
To favor creating a new state somewhere is to be a dirty nationalist. To favor keeping all existing national states precisely as they are is very progressive and enlightened and not nationalist at all. How do these people believe this stuff? Even though independence would be bad for Scotland in the short to medium run, … Continue reading The Inanity of the Anti-Secessionists
Unless the polls are systematically biased or there is a late-breaking surge in support for "Yes," the "No" campaign looks set to squeak by with a narrow victory in the Scottish independence referendum. On the betting markets, a "Yes" vote has plunged below an implied probability of 20%. What has this decline in the prospects … Continue reading On Eve of Scottish Vote, Another Look at Capital Markets
The Oxford Review of Economic Policy has a brand-new special issue on the economics of independence. The entire issue seems to be open-access right now, so check it out. (HT: Doug Irwin) In Scottish news, polls have turned a bit against independence, and betting markets now price a "Yes" at around 22-24%. I will take … Continue reading More on Economics of Secession
What can we learn from capital markets about the likely consequences of Scottish independence? A trio of recent polls has shown the "Yes" side to have pulled roughly even with "No." With momentum on their side, it's not unthinkable at all that "Yes" will pull it out, resulting in the first secession from a Western … Continue reading Scottish Independence and the Markets
UK Labour MP and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling and Scottish First Minister and Scottish National Party MSP Alex Salmond last night debated independence for Scotland as part of the campaign leading up to a referendum on September 18. While the "Yes" camp remains slightly behind in the polls, they have been catching … Continue reading Scottish Independence Debate
Tyler Cowen thinks Scotland should stay in the UK, and so do I. But this bit of his blog post I can't quite agree with: If a significant segment of the British partnership wishes to leave, and for no really good practical reason, it is a sign that something is deeply wrong with contemporary politics … Continue reading Why Some Scots Want to Leave the UK
Public opinion has moved very quickly there against Italy: Veneto - IPR poll: 63% against secession from Italy 28% in favour 8% in favour as part of broader Northern #Italy (“Padania”)— electionista (@electionista) April 4, 2014 UPDATE: I misread the poll. These numbers are consistent with what we have seen in the past: a solid majority against independence. … Continue reading Veneto: The Next Catalonia? (update)
Russia's annexation of Crimea, de facto or de jure, is likely to spur violence in the peninsula. "Crimean Tatar representative" in Lviv, Ukraine Alim Aliyev is quoted as saying, "Tatars will launch a guerrilla war against the Russian forces if they do not pack up and leave the region." While he could be communicating a … Continue reading Crimea: Competing Homelands
That's the title of a very good article by Princeton political scientist Carles Boix and J.C. Major. The article provides background to the Catalan self-determination movement but also discusses recent developments and the reasons for them. One takeaway is the enormous role that the Spanish government's response to the last Catalan autonomy statute, essentially gutting … Continue reading “Catalonia’s March Toward Self-Determination”
The Government of Scotland has just released its 600-odd-page white paper on independence in advance of the September 18, 2014 referendum on the question. First Minister Alex Salmond and the rest of the pro-independence side have their work cut out, with the latest poll showing a 47-38% plurality in favor of "No." In part, the … Continue reading Persuading the Scots
Today's election results from Catalonia are in, and the verdict is: status quo. Turnout increased dramatically from 58.8% to 69.6%, but there was little change in the overall position of pro-independence and anti-independence forces. Explicitly pro-independence parties received 74 of 135 seats, down two from the previous parliament. However, if the pro-independence referendum quasi-nationalist Catalan … Continue reading Catalan Election Results
I don't think Catalan secession is an easy issue. There are good arguments on both sides (that is, to the desirability of secession, not whether Catalans should have the right to decide their future status). Precisely because it is a complex issue without easy answers, the haughty dismissal of Catalan independence from Anglo-American elites rubs … Continue reading Yet More on Catalonia
The Monkey Cage is carrying an interesting update on the Catalonia situation from Duke political scientist Laia Balcells. Catalonia is heading to elections, called by the premier Artur Mas, from the Convergence and Unity (CiU) party, a moderate Catalan nationalist party on the center-right. The CiU has always favored a "right to self-determination" for Catalonia, … Continue reading Catalonia Update
At MR, Tyler Cowen has a rather strong reaction against an economist who supports Catalan secession: He taught me Ph.d Micro I at Harvard, so it’s too bad he wants to wreck both Spain and Europe, and for so little in return. Didn’t one of his theorems suggest this was a bad idea? It’s not … Continue reading Cowen on Catalonia
British Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond have reached a deal on the upcoming Scottish independence referendum. It looks as if the SNP have gotten what they wanted in several respects: 16- and 17-year-olds will be allowed to vote. The referendum will be held in late 2014. While the Electoral Commission … Continue reading Scottish Referendum Deal Reached
A pro-secession protest in Catalonia on September 11th brought out 8% of the region's entire population, The Economist reports. Opinion polls have support for independence at about half of the electorate, possibly more. The moderate nationalists in power in Catalonia have even radicalized their platform. In the past, Convergence and Unity was a moderate nationalist, … Continue reading The Economist on Catalan Independence
For all the usual association of independence movements with violence and "separatism," the fact is that secessionist movements in liberal democracies usually pursue their aims peacefully, through the democratic process, and central governments resolve not to use military force to prevent secession authorized by a democratic vote (imagine that!). Such is the case in Scotland, … Continue reading Could a Scottish Secession Referendum Bring About Salutary Decentralization?
Libertarian "seasteading" gets a lengthy, respectful treatment in the latest print edition of The Economist. Here's the online link.
The debate over the Palestinian Liberation Organization's imminent application for full recognition at the United Nations continues to rage domestically and internationally. The dominant perspective here in the U.S., at least among Republicans, is that Palestinian statehood should be denied except on Israel's terms. The most common reason given seems to be that the Israelis … Continue reading Palestinian Statehood: Dispensing with Bad Arguments
Few in power find it convenient to notice inconsistencies in their own conduct. Alas, but President Madison was no exception. Federalism and decentralization exist precisely because free constitutions should not depend on the good graces of those in office, but on the checks necessary to harry them back under the law. Seeking the financial means … Continue reading Interposition: Part Nine: The Hartford Convention
The biggest story of yesterday's British elections has to be the stunning success of the Scottish National Party in elections to the Scottish Parliament. As tipped on this blog, the SNP were rising in the polls, but in the end their success outstripped expectations, as they won 69 seats in the 129-seat parliament, a solid … Continue reading Scotland the Brave
New York was Hamilton’s great project. So closely divided was the state, that at various moments, he despaired of its coming into the union. At one point the Antifederalists offered a compromise. They would support a conditional ratification dependent on the passage of certain key amendments, including the all important construction of delegated and reserved … Continue reading Interposition: Part Four: New York and the First Act of Interposition
On May 5, Britain votes in a referendum on a new electoral system called "alternative vote," also used in Australia (polls show it going down to defeat), but in Scotland and Wales, there are also elections to the devolved parliaments. The Scottish National Party (SNP), which advocates independence for Scotland within the E.U., is heading … Continue reading Nationalists Open Up Big Lead in Scotland
In my first post on last week's "Future of Free Cities" conference, I discussed the legislation Honduras has put forward to authorize the creation of new "free-market cities." In this second look at the conference, I summarize the discussions and some of the points I came away with. The first talk on the main day … Continue reading The Future of Free Cities, Part 2
With South Sudan apparently on the verge of declaring independence, the Economist has asked readers to contribute their suggestions for a new name for the country. While I personally am partial to suggestions appealing to the shared cultural heritage of most of the ethnic groups in the region ("Nilotia"/"Nilotic Republic"), I think it's most probable … Continue reading Name That Country!