Democracy question?

I was wondering today when does democracy begin – at the moment where you are free to express opinions… or at the moment you are free to act upon you opinion?

I did not vote today. But all of my friends along with their parents and grandparents went to express their views on the catalan culture, identity and independence from the Spanish state. And congratulations to all – ot of 30% of the Sant Cugat population (more then the participation on the European vote), 93% were in favor of a constitutional change which will defend better the rights of Catalans to protect and act upon their culture.

I do not know who is right and who is wrong. Not to mention that things are not completely blacck and white on this one. What I know is that I have been easily and equally accepted by nationalistic catalans, and insulted and ignored by educated professional Spaniards.

I am not defending any standpoint. I would not end up in Barcelona if it was not for the Spanish and their fame throughout the world, yet there are certain things that a Spaniard is not open to understand and accept (TO MY K NOWLEDGE AND I AM A FOREIGNER).

I remember, not that long ago, I think I was about 12-13 I decided I want a dog for Christmas. A dog, I did not get… Yet, I refused to accept the present from my parents instead – a pair of sunglasses and an amazing parfume. I wanted a dog and I was not gonna settle for less…

The other day we did Secret Santa and my present ended up with a girl from Madrid. As I knew that the group of Secret Santa Exchange was of foreigners and people from Madrid I decided to buy a mini-cagatio (see my blogpost on the topic). I thought it was fun. Instead of ending up with the 20 Catalan residing people in the room, my present ended up with a Madrillenya. Even better, I thought, now she could take it home as a souvenir from Catalunya (I can onl ybegin to count how many presents I have brought back fom travelling throughout). We all went very excited – in the end the cagatio ended up in the right hands :). Or you would think so. We explained to her what it is, that it brings luck and that it also carries the presents for the children during Christmas in a very “peculiar manner”… She spent some time looking at it… studying it carefully and then she announced: “No, it is really ugly.. too Catalan… I dont understand it… . I do not want it. I will leave it here” – an that infront of 3 Catalans whose culture it is, and myself who had spent the previous week thinking about what to buy, she left it in the office without any consideration, respect and acknowledgement of something different then her own world.

This is exactly what the Catalans were voting against – against intolerans, lack of understanding and recognition. A country recognizes its people and the people are entitled to recognition by their coutnry – the same contry that they are paying taxes to, that they are taking care of, that they are defending in international conflicts as well as world Olympiads.

Some say studying in a different language is wrong. Some say boo-ing the Spanish king when he has come to defend only one of the two NATIONAL teams is wrong. Some say that keeping a souvenir from another culture is wrong. I say it is right.

I do not know what is right about the Catalans neither do I want to take a position in their matters. I am not from here and I am scared that their actions are causing more harm then gain. Yet, isn’t this democracy? The right to speak up and defend your beliefs?

International Media:


About Maria Bakardjieva

I am a licensed Social Media Strategist and Networking Coach who helps business and people position, grow and develop. I work at Explicata - an online marketing experts company. You can find us at
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13 Responses to Democracy question?

  1. Georgi K says:

    Nope. Democracy is electing your own government. It has nothing to do with rights, such as the freedom of speech. It is presumed that the latter (the rights) are dependent on the former (democracy). But that’s not necessarily so.

    • mbakardjieva says:

      Do you honestly think that you can execute your democracy and freedoms only once every 4 years at election times?

      • Georgi K says:

        I’m talking about rights, not about freedoms (and so are you). And I also never heard of state with direct democracy, so yes, you’ll have exercise democratism once every X years, if you live in a democratic country, that is.

  2. Alfredo says:

    Yesterday, nearly 200.000 people participate in a private public opinion poll, about independency for Catalonia as a state. That represent roughly the 3% of the people who live in Catalonia.

    I have only two questions to do : seriously, it is right and realistic the affirmation:spaniards don’t respect catalan people?

    And, the other one is: it is possible to be catalan, to love Catalonia, and not to be nacionalist or indepentist?

    You explained the story about your present to the madrileña girl. How many times have you heared commentaries against andalusian people from nacionalist people in Catalonia? Did you never hear the word “charnego”, to describe the not “pure” catalan? Ask your nacionalist friends about, and contrast their opinions with your common sense.

    • mbakardjieva says:

      Ok, here are several things on the topic… First and foremost I am NOT defending a political position and I did not go to vote regardless that I had the opportunity. I do not feel equipped to make political judgements over something I do not completely understand. This is why my observations are based EXCLUSIVELY on personal experience and cannot be grounds for generalizations.
      The vote represents 3% of the people living in Catalonia because it was only organized to include 170 villages, thus this statistics does NOT mean that the other 97% were against or indiferent. Rather, it is that their chance to have their say will come at some other point (there are plans to organize it in Barcelona and other big cities). It is the same if now I tell you that of the 30% that voted since 93% voted YES, then it is right to assume that if all 100% voted the proportion will remain – just not true. You can never make assumptions about the people who did not excercise their right of vote.
      As for your question: ¨seriously, it is right and realistic the affirmation:spaniards don’t respect catalan people?¨ I do not know. I do not think so. I think that this generalization is waaaay too broad and cannot be made. However, I do think that there are some people with political power and the ability to define the lives of many who do not respect catalan CULTURE (not the people) and that I think is wrong because in the end … a richer culture only gives you benefits… it can never be a loss.
      On your other question: ¨It is possible to be catalan, to love Catalonia, and not to be nacionalist or indepentist?¨ Well, I am neither catalan nor nationalistic but I do love Catalonia for what it means personally to me. If my friends are independentists – deffinately NOT, if they would fight to protect cultural diversity – i tan!!! Who would not? I think it is possible to love your country and not be aggressive about it. I am not aggressive about Bulgaria but there are things I am nationalistic about. There are things I do not like and I disagree with… will I act aggressively upon it – no. But neither did the 200 000 catalans yesterday. They just repeated what they share among themselves in an innitiative innitiated by private organizations.
      Commentaries against andalusian people I have honestly NOT heard. May be it is the environment I move in (also a prove to my belief that you can love Catalunya and not be aggressive about it). All I have heard about Andalusians is that I have to go visit because it is a completely different face of Spain. Actually we are planning a trip to go there – with my ¨nationalist friends¨.
      I have never heard that word either, ¨charnego¨, what does it mean? As I already said, I am not defending neither position nor do I feel the right to do so. I am not from here. But the mere fact that I have never heard any of those things and I have never been treated disrespectfully by Catalans (mind you by others YES), they have never been aggressive to other regions in Spain and their manner of expressing opinions is peaceful and moderate (the ones I KNOW!) makes me inclined to side with their desire to talk about the subject (not to take part in the debate, however).
      But for your comfort Alfredo, I will ask what a ¨chernego¨ means and I will come back to you with the answer. If you want I can even let them post their answers here. I trust the people who treat me well and with respect.

  3. Eric says:

    Very good Maria! You are the best not catalan defensor of the democracy! Jeje

    thanks! Muaaaa

    • mbakardjieva says:

      Eric, please see the post of Alfredo.
      Would you please answer his question: Is it possible to be Catalan, to love Catalunya and not to be independist?
      And once again: I am NOT defending anything. I am just observing!

  4. Jaume says:

    Question: Is it possible to be Catalan, to love Catalunya and not to be independist?


    Being catalan means living in Catalunya? speaking Catalan language? defining catalan culture as your own culture? what definition of catalan person are we talking about?

    Because althought this questions are answered afirmative, you must think about love definition. For me, and I hope the same for the rest of humanity, when you love someone or something, you allways want the best for him/her/it.

    So, it is not much difficult to understand that living in a country where some people does not feel confortable or also tried to avoid you to vote in a not oficial referendum, does not permit to define your home, Catalunya as you want (nation, town, village…), and does not understand that our ecnomic financing must be adapted to the real world, living this way and accepting it is not loving, or not want the best for Catalunya.

    Because the famous definition of “plural culture country” is completly absolete, because the repression of the past made evident that the only plural is the interest of whole Spain of having Catalunya in his accounts, all of this makes so obvious that if you want the best for Catalunya, the best way is proclaim it as a separete State, country of Spain.

    And Catalunya will recognize its citizens who has come from other parts of Spain as his own sons, respect and promote their culture and their language, and want the best for them. All of this at the same time Catalunya grows as a Culture, as a country and as a nation in the world.

    It is not only the word “independent” the final goal, it is the fact of being your own, growing as your own, and people see you as your own, allways respecting and also loving the other nationalities and people of anywhere.

    • Alfredo says:

      You said “…all of this makes so obvious that if you want the best for Catalunya, the best way is proclaim it as a separete State, country of Spain”. I’m sorry but I don’t agree, and this is only your opinion, but not an argument. Where is the logical relation between “the best for Catalonia” and “the separation from Spain”? Is not your affirmation a faith question more than a rational question?

  5. Alfredo says:

    I’m not deffending nothing too; and not think you were (despite Eric thinks you did) I considered important your readers know how representative was the survey; I did not make any consideration about, but you did it.

    Anyway, my intention was to put the focus on the difference between catalan people and nationalist catalan people, so I think is relevant and many times this point of view is forgotten.

    And about democracy, is there any reason to affirm that Spain is not a democracy? why? Are not the independetist politics an option recognised by de Constitutional law? There are democratic ways, voted in the referendum by catalans in 1978, to became independents. Of course, it is a majority question. Is a private survey more democratic than a legal referendum? Where is the democracy lack?

    The majoritary politic parties, voted by catalans in Catalonia, have not the independency in their objectives. Is not this a democratic expression of the beliefs of catalans? So, why Eric said you where deffending democracy? In what sense?

    I don’t need you ask about the meaning of “charnego”, to feel confortable myself. And I already told you the meaning of it, in my first comment: is a derogatory way to describe the people who is not “pure” catalan. A very well known adjective in Catalonia, unfortunately.

    Sorry, I just wanted to give you another perspective.

  6. mbakardjieva says:

    Thank you for the alternative. But you cannot say how representative the survey was BEFORE all the cities/villages/areas/zonas in Catalunya have had the opportunity to vote. Think that the bigger ones still have not organized the referendum.
    And even if your intention really was to differentiate between Catalan and nationalistic Catalan I am afraid you failed to do so exactly because of the way you posed your question about if it is at all possible to be Catalan and not independentist… That inferres that you do not think so.
    If Spain is a democracy – in theory it is, whether it is in practice – I assume, but I do not know, so I am completely incompetent to comment on this. I would say it is a democracy – which means that it allows for difference in opinions and dialogue – exactly what this public private survey (just to stop calling it a referendum or w.e.) call it a survey, an innitiation of public debate… why is it so controversial I do not understand, especially as it is private.
    As far as the referendum of 1978 and the changes of the estatut (I think) 3 years ago, are, from what I understand, open to the same public dialogue and discussion and possible change as the independence topic was intended to be, with the only difference, that those discussing the latter are doing a survey while the former do have the political power to act upon their decisions.
    Eric said I defend democracy in terms of the right of freedom of speech and expression of opinions different from the majority, the authority and the surroundings, especially if they are done peacefully and without threatening the well being of others. And that is not coming of me living in Catalunya, but of me being a journalist always brought up with this core value.
    Other then that, I think it went well and it gives politicians, journalists and most importantly people on both sides something to talk about and it puts an
    important debate on the table. And two minds always work better then one so with all the potential for diverse input, I think this could actually be useful.

  7. Alfredo says:

    Totally agree with you that peaceful debates are actually useful. That is the reason I wanted to express here my opinion. But I think we have a missunderstanding, so in fact I think it is possible to feel catalan and not to be separatist. Are separatist people who usually think that it is not possible.

    • mbakardjieva says:

      Ok, then I misunderstood you because in your fist comment you made it sound that you are either catalan and separatist together or neither one at all…

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