His uncompromising and brutal speech on self-determination in Catalonia confirms his attitude towards extending democracy within his toy kingdom. No calls for dialogue, no door left open for a future legitimate referendum, no compromise. In the world of kings he is something of a counter-jumper, an arriviste, a nouveau roi. Perhaps his grasping approach to what is left of the Spanish empire is not unexpected; neither Ceuta nor Melilla, holdings far less legitimate and democratic than Gibraltar, will be allowed to slip from Spain's grasp.
Many in Catalonia now blame Felipe for the paramilitary violence last weekend. They know their king better than we do, and have a shrewd idea of the extent of his power to direct Spain's military. This also raises whether Felipe is personally behind the long series of military provocations against Gibraltar this year. Is Felipe just the same old unreasoning, fanatical don that we have known before? Has loyalty to the Pope just been replaced with loyalty to the EU?
I sincerely hope that both sides pull back from the brink next week, that Spain concedes a proper referendum, that the Catalan parliament resists declaring independence. Felipe and his EU masters have shown themselves to be both wilful and stupid so far, driving the region to secession. Let's hope more balanced voices are heard - possibly Switzerland, which has already offered to mediate, but has been spurned by both Spain and the EU.
Felipe may want to take note. Switzerland is what an actual democracy looks like - and every Canton retains the right to leave the Swiss Federation. Perhaps he was sick on the day they taught democracy.
|Felipe II and Felipe VI - the same old don?|