Greece, Puerto Rico, Catalonia



By Josep Colomer.




These three countries are going to make news within the next few weeks. They represent the three major options to the economic and public debt crisis: bailout, default, and exit, respectively. They are all relatively small or medium-size countries, have dubious status within a larger union (be it the European Union, the United States or the Spanish state), and call snap elections, referendums and plebiscites to try to deal with the above mentioned three options.

Greece is for the BAILOUT from the EU. The government called a referendum on the EU’s bailout in July, about 55% of voters said ‘no’, but the government accepted the bailout nevertheless (see this Blog about it CLICK). Then the Syriza ruling party split and the prime minister called a snap election for September 20 (which will be the fourth in a little more than three years). All the polls predict losses for the incumbent party. The bailout will be confirmed any way. There will not be exit so far. And strangely, default is not being considered by the EU.

Puerto Rico is for DEFAULT. The Governor and most people of the island want to declare bankruptcy. But as they are not a state but only a “Commonwealth” of the US, they are asking and getting support from presidential candidates to legalize that option. Bailout is out of question, as the US federal government has not rescued local governments since the mid-19th century (See my comment about it CLICK). Exit is not in the agenda either: the most recent plebiscite and referendum was in 2012; it included 2 questions with 2+4 answers; the result was a kind of tie between keeping the current status and statehood in the US, while independence got less than 4% of votes.

Catalonia may be for EXIT. The current government called an a-legal plebiscite in 2014, with 2 questions and 2+2 answers, in which about 30% of the electoral census voted for an independent state. It has also called a snap election on September 27 (which will be the third in five years). A new candidacy for independence has been formed, which may obtain a majority of votes only if there is low turnout in the election. For several decades, the people of Catalonia were considered to be pristinely Europeanist. But the elephant in the room is that Catexit from Spain would also imply exit from the European Union. This would cancel any EU’s bailout (which actually the government of Catalonia has indirectly received via the Spanish government) and most likely would not prevent default.

My personal wish: Let’s everybody default and stay in or join the larger Union. To discuss.

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