But trust me, something interesting is taking place.
Catalonia, the richest region in the country, has been clamoring for independence for some time now. A framework for more autonomy was worked out in 2006 and it was agreed upon by both Catalan and Spanish authorities.
That agreement was struck down by the Constitutional Court in 2010 fuelling independence calls.
Most observers believe that Catalans are not very serious about full independence. They just want to get a bigger share out of the national budget and/or some acknowledgement that they contribute disproportionately to the union.
The regional government decided to hold a second referendum (the first one in 2014 was non-binding) with the proviso that if pro-independent proposition passes, they would declare it within 48 hours.
It sounds ominous but in reality polls indicated that this was fairly unlikely.
Yet Spanish government reacted with very heavy-handed and brutal tactics.
They started with police raiding printing companies to confiscate ballots.
Armed police in Spain have raided several print works and newspaper offices in Catalonia in recent days in a hunt for voting papers, ballot boxes and leaflets to be used in an Oct. 1 independence referendum which Madrid vehemently opposes.They also passed measure to control the regional government's spending to block any referendum related expenditure.
And earlier this week Madrid summoned over 700 Catalan mayors for questioning over their support for the vote.Catalonia's president Carles Puigdemont is facing criminal charges.
On Friday, police confiscated 100,000 campaign leaflets in a raid in Catalonia, the Interior Ministry said, without saying where. Catalonia’s top court issued a warning on Friday to seven newspapers, many of them online, not to publish campaign notices for the referendum, a court spokesman said on Saturday.The police conducted searched in various media outlets and confiscated documents and equipment. They seized up to 10 million ballots. And the Guardia Civil blocked the official referendum Web site (which you can see here if you are not in Spain)
When this was met with protests in Catalonia, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy massively escalated the crisis.
Spanish police have detained 14 Catalan officials and raided regional government ministries involved in organising an independence vote declared illegal by Spain's government.
Tensions were already high before Josep Maria Jové, number two in the Catalan vice-presidency, and others were held.The police (which included the beloved Mossos d‘Esquadra) raided forty ministries and offices and arrested important political figures.
Several ministries in Barcelona were raided on Wednesday, including the economy, foreign affairs, telecoms, social affairs and presidency buildings. Among those detained were officials from the economy ministry, run by Catalan Vice-President Oriol Junqueras, as well as figures from other departments.So what happened after this crackdown?
Well, the 700+ mayors who were questioned by the police defied Madrid's orders:
The soccer club Barcelona, one of the most important global brands in sports, threw its weight behind the Catalonian government and the referendum.The mayors met with Catalonia’s regional head Carles Puigdemont in a show of defiance, following Spanish prosecutors warning earlier this week that officials engaging in any preparations for the vote could be charged with civil disobedience, abuse of office and misuse of public funds.(...)Meeting in downtown Barcelona in front of hundreds of flag waving pro-independence protesters, the mayors gave speeches in which they promised continued support for the referendum amid chants of “we will vote” and “independence.”
The centre of Barcelona soon became a sea of Catalan flags and the city's renowned football club threw its weight behind the protests, condemning any act that threatened freedom of speech and self-determination.
The puzzling question is this: Why did Rajoy hugely overreact to a referendum that was likely to come back with a No result?
Before the crackdown, there was strong evidence that most Catalans were happy with a regional autonomy arrangement. And the population was trending away from independence.
Just 2.2 million voters out of a potential 5.4 million turned out for the 2014 ballot. (...)
Then in 2015 a coalition of separatist parties won regional elections. Between them, Junts pel Si (Together for Yes), with the support of a radical left-wing party, the CUP, won 48% of the vote.
More worryingly for the secessionists, a public survey commissioned by the Catalan government in July suggested 49% of Catalans opposed independence, while 41% were in favour.
Turnout at the annual Catalan national day event in Barcelona on 11 September was impressive - around a million people according to local police - but in 2014 it was estimated at 1.8 million.Now with Catalan officials under arrest and a brutal oppression reminiscent of the Franco era, a prolonged and violent confrontation is inevitable.
My guess is that Rajoy, the guy who shepherded unpopular austerity measures is doing it for personal political reasons.
He is aware that his party will never get much of the vote in Catalonia (they got 8.5 percent in 2015). So alienating Catalan electorate is not a big deal for him. On the other hand, cracking down on Catalan independence is likely to make him popular elsewhere in the country.
The political theatre is also taking away from the devastation his austerity measures brought to Spain.
In other words, this is what Erdogan or Duterte has been doing and what I predicted Trump will soon be doing.
The problem is that with this escalation he ensured that, next time a referendum is held, Catalans will vote for independence. And in between, there will be more protests, social unrest and violence.
He essentially reversed the current trend.
It is not a winning hand for Rajoy since, at some point, the EU will have to break its rather surprising silence and sanction the Spanish government. It is hard to criticize the illiberal democracies of the East without saying anything about similar tactics in Spain.
My guess is that this will have momentous consequences for both Spain and the EU.