Catalonia—The situation is flaming up.
In a pre-recorded Television address, Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont called for “democratic opposition [to the] premeditated aggression” of the Central Government.
He added that Catalans “know perfectly well that in a democracy it is parliaments that choose, or remove, presidents.”
The address came in response to Madrid’s enforcement of direct rule in Catalonia. Puigdemont spoke from an undisclosed location.
Late on Friday, the first measures of Article 155 began taking place. Puigdemont, the Catalan Government, and the chiefs of the Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan regional police, were sacked.
“Spain is a serious country, a great nation, and we won’t allow some people to wipe away our constitution,” said Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Regional elections will take place on December 21st.
Meanwhile, Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría has assumed administrative authority in the troubled region.
Following the regional Parliament’s declaration of independence, Catalans in the thousands crowded the streets to celebrate their short-lived Republic. In other parts of Spain, however, the mood was different. Spanish flags flew across the country, a sign of support for Madrid’s assertion of authority in Catalonia. And in even in Catalonia, not everyone supports independence. On Sunday, huge rallies took place in the streets of Barcelona, with pro-union supporters calling for the jailing of Puigdemont.
Along with the U.S., the European Union has already declared its support for the Spanish Government.
But European support came with a jibe, “I hope the Spanish government favours force of argument, not an argument of force,” said President of the European Council Donald Tusk.
Over 1000 people had been injured in clashes with Spanish police and paramilitary officers during the October 1st referendum clashes.
And the political calculations on both sides resume.
Catalan separatists appear to have thought more about the independence vote and less about what would happen if they actually declared independence. And now they face a dilemma: if they participate in the regional elections on December 21st, they’ll be acknowledging the Central Government’s measures and contradicting their unilateral declaration of independence. Conversely, if they abstain, they’ll lose all power in shaping Catalonia’s future relationship with Madrid.
But risks run both ways: Catalans may perceive the election as a second referendum vote. And flamed up by Madrid’s breakdown, they might rally behind the separatist parties in force. Or, again, they might deem that independence isn’t worth the trouble after all, and opt to retain—or at least work to alter—their present status within Spain.
Featured image courtesy of AP