Wednesday Headlines

Scotland, Hong Kong, And Now Catalonia
Thousands of pro-independence campaigners take to the streets of Barcelona after the Catalan government says it remains “determined” to hold the vote, reports the BBC.

Spain’s Constitutional Court suspended Catalonia’s decree to hold an independence referendum on November 9, but the next day, the Catalan regional government said they would appeal the decision.

The Catalan National Assembly (ANC) has urged secessionists to take to the streets protesting the court’s decision to suspend the referendum. Catalan leader Artur Mas has called for protest campaigns to be suspended for the safety of citizens but noted that the Monday suspension of the referendum did not imply that it was illegal.

“Catalonia’s secession would be more traumatic for Spain than Scotland’s would have been for the U.K.; the region accounts for 16 percent of the Spanish population and 19 percent of the economy (double Scotland’s share of the U.K. on both counts). Spain’s financial position is already precarious, and both it and Catalonia would be punished severely in the bond markets for any breakup,” write the editors of Bloomberg View.

However, to make certain they decide, like the Scots, that unity is better than independence, they need a robust debate.

It was not surprising after Scotland’s referendum to learn that other regions would seek votes of their own. After Catalania, which country could be the next?

Melaine Furey believes Quebec might move for another independence vote, but sees the chances as slim because their government has more power than Scotland’s, so there is more to lose.

The last time Quebec’s citizens voted on independence was in 1995, and ended with 50.5 percent of Quebecers voting against breaking away from Canada.

She adds that Kurdistan has entertained independence, but it is not likely at the moment. In addition, the Kurds could gain more power or their own state once the ISIS battle is over.

“With countries and regions across the world searching for a way to find independence, Scotland’s vote should serve as a reminder for the importance of freedom and the right to be able to open the debate for independence in order to, if nothing else, gain more rights and greater cultural autonomy at home,” she argues.

China Is Not Ready For A Democratic Hong Kong
Anson Chan, former Chief Secretary of the Hong Kong government, both before and after the city’s return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, says China is not prepared to handle a Hong Kong that is not within its total control.

However, she writes that Hong Kong’s government has paved the way for the current crisis by acquiescing in a phony process of public consultation on constitutional reform, the results of which were completely ignored by Beijing.

“The vast majority of protesters want nothing less than for our current head of government, C.Y. Leung, and his senior ministers, to step down. Realistically, this won’t happen — at least anytime soon. In the meantime, he and his team must come up with something that will give the protesters a reason to pack up and go home. And they must come up with it soon,” Chan adds.

A Global Parliament Of Mayors?
Amsterdam’s Mayor Eberhard van der Laan wants to bring mayors from the United States and Europe together in London where they will announce themselves as a Global Parliament of Mayors that will forge a new political force – global in reach, local in experience and achievement.

“Mayors without question are very much consistent with the spirit of the age – visible, figurehead urban leaders who are a much better fit in a world of 24-hour news and the need for celebrity visibility,” local government expert Tony Travers of the London School of Economics tells BBC News.

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