Accurate or not, it is an aphorism that springs to mind when considering the situation in Spain where police have seized 1.3m pro-referendum posters in Catalonia.
Catalonia’s regional government plans to hold a vote
on independence on October 1 despite Spain’s constitutional court having ruled the ballot illegal on the basis it defies the nation’s constitutional decree declaring Spain indivisible.
This heavy-handed approach by Spain’s central government contrasts with the vote for Scottish independence from the UK in 2014 and shows how fragile democracy can be, even within the EU.
Spanish democracy was barely five years old in 1981 when members of the military stormed parliament.
EU institutions and governments must remind the Spanish authorities that the essence of democracy is dissent and that a return to authoritarianism is not an option.