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Vicenç Villatoro’s Diary

July 19: The good referendum

Those who claim that they would only accept a referendum in Catalonia under terms agreed with Spain find it fantastic that there is no such agreement in Venezuela

LAST MONDAY certain front pages were both enthusiastically applauding the Venezuelan opposition’s referendum against Maduro and enthusiastically condemning the Catalan referendum. They’re not the same!, they would cry. Certainly. But whilst there is no contradiction for those of us who sympathise with both, there might well be for those who applaud one and denounce the other. People who, talking about Catalonia, say that referenda are bad democratic tools because they divide societies, suddenly discover all their positives, as long as they’re happening in Venezuela.

People who say that the Catalan referendum is a democratic aberration because it doesn’t have full legal guarantees find a Venezuelan referendum with few guarantees entirely democratic. Those who claim that they would only accept a referendum in Catalonia under terms agreed with Spain find it fantastic that there is no such agreement in Venezuela. What they deem illegal here seems legitimate there. Those that found the participation of a third of the citizenry (not of the electoral roll) laughable in the 2014 unofficial referendum in Catalonia find the participation of a fifth of the Venezuelan population a great success. Different cases? Definitely! But when you use a generic argument, it must be applicable to every instance of the same kind.

       

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