Barcelona—Catalonia’s moment of truth nears.
Tomorrow ends the second deadline that the Spanish government has given to Catalan President Carles Puigdemont to clarify last Tuesday’s independence declaration.
In the October 1st referendum, 90% of participants voted for independence. But the turnout was just 43%. Then, on October 10th, Puigdemont declared independence in front of a packed Catalan Parliament, only to suspend it immediately thereafter.
The Spanish government answered to this challenge of authority by offering the Catalan separatists eight days and two deadlines to respond whether they stand behind their independence declaration or not.
The first deadline ended on Monday unanswered.
“The answer must be without any ambiguity,” Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said. “If he answers ambiguously, it means he doesn’t want a dialogue and thus the Spanish government will have to take action,” he continued.
The Spanish government seems resolute to trigger Article 155 of the constitution if Puigdemont answers yes or if he doesn’t answer at all. The “atomic bomb” Article, will see the national government forcibly taking control of Catalonia. Already thousands of police and paramilitary officers have been deployed in the region.
And as an entrée, two separatist leaders were jailed for sedition. Spanish police arrested Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart and are holding them without bail. More than 200,000 of pro-independence supporters gathered in Barcelona to protest. Some even called the two men “political prisoners.”
The spotlight now falls to Puigdemont. He must answer by Thursday. But he faces a Shakespearean dilemma: if he does stick to his guns and unilaterally declares independence, Madrid will act; if he retracts, he’ll be a spent politician. His voters and political allies will feel betrayed. And his political enemies will jump at the opportunity to end his minority government.
In the meantime, Britain followed France and the rest of the EU by reassuring Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that she won’t recognize an independence declaration, further muddling the future of an independent Catalonia.
Stay tuned for tomorrow.
Featured image courtesy of Wikipedia