The absurd and tragic Catalan crisis (earlier comment here) lurches forward.
- The secessionists called for yet another referendum on October 1. This was declared illegal beforehand by the Spanish Constitutional Court. The central government made a hamfisted attempt to block it, with scattered violence by the national police. (Casualty totals here, on a Catalan website. Does not look like Tien An-Men or Kent State to me.) The unionists stayed home: the secessionists “won” the recorded vote by 93%, but with turnout of only 43%.
- On 10 October, Carles Puigdemont, the President of the regional government, sort-of declared independence in a speech to the Catalan Parliament (which has a thin secessionist majority), treating the referendum result as a mandate, or self-executing, or something. He immediately suspended it “for a few weeks” to call for “dialogue” with Madrid, on Catalan terms, mediated by outsiders. (Offers to referee the knife-fight have not been forthcoming).
- Mariano Rajoy, the Prime Minister of Spain, seized on the opening to demand that Puigdemont clarify whether he had declared independence or not. He hasn’t clarified at all, so Rajoy is going ahead with selective suspension of parts of Catalonia’s regional autonomy under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. Crucially, he has secured the support of both the Socialist PSOE and the reformist Ciudadanos parties for the move, leaving only Podemos (hippie reformists) and the regionalist parties opposed. The Senate will surely approve the suspension on Friday.
If you are scoring this as a match, Rajoy lost points by the failed and violent attempt to stop the referendum taking place, but Puigdemont lost them back by the non-declaration. A deadline of a year would have been a serious threat, and an immediate declaration would at least have been brave. As things are, it looks as if he chickened out at the last moment.
Meanwhile, a trickle of companies moving their legal headquarters outside Catalonia has turned into a flood: 700 by October 16. Rajoy initially encouraged this but is now alarmed by the success and reversed track. Standard & Poor’s suggest a recession in Catalonia is on the way – that’s before the chaos of a real attempt at independence.
What happens now? Continue Reading…