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Performing Catalan “Self-Determination” _(Part II)

by Zoran Oklopcic, Associate Professor at the Department of Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University.

While one might choose to focus on the contradictions and dissimulations which Lockean performances oftentimes require, the Catalan crisis is an occasion to ask a set of less judgmental questions: What is it that compels present-day revolutionary secessionists to follow the script intended to serve struggles against oppressive tyrants and empires, not liberal democrats and republics? What do those who follow it today expect to happen as a consequence of doing so? Or, more precisely: What are Catalans betting on as they perform the role of reasonable revolutionaries—who, in a contemporary dramatization of the Lockean script by the Catalan parliament—make ‘every effort’ to stay on the constitutional path, and who act unconstitutionally only ‘after exhausting all forms of dialogue and negotiation’? What is it that they think they must do in order to increase the chances of their bet succeeding?

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Performing Catalan “Self-Determination”_(Part I)

by Zoran Oklopcic, Associate Professor at the Department of Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University.

Since the advent of popular sovereignty at the turn of the 19th century, referendums have been one of the most (excuse the pun) popular techniques of ascertaining the extent of popular support for a variety of far-reaching political projects. Oftentimes viewed as indispensable for demonstrating the legitimacy of secessionist pursuits, independence referendums have only rarely resulted in victories for advocates of the constitutional status quo. Among the 54 referendums that have taken place since the early 1800s, 43 saw the triumph of pro-independence majorities. In terms of their actual success in seceding, however, things predictably look different. Out of the victorious 43, only 22 pro-independence majorities managed to achieve independence peacefully. In the case of the remaining 21, independence either never occurred, or, when it did, took place only after a period of protracted violence.

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