Catalonia - Spain: The soap opera goes on
In compliance with the deadline set by the Spanish government to announce whether or not to declare independence, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont sent a letter of response to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Monday asking for dialogue, but he avoided answering the question. Madrid has said it will wait until Thursday to decide whether to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy.
(Barcelona) The soap opera between Catalonia and Spain seems like taking days to finally come to an end.
This Monday the deadline set by the central government for the Catalan president Carles Puigdemont - to clarify whether or not he declared the independence of Catalonia last Tuesday - came to an end; a mystery that remained unresolved when Puigdemont announced that he declared independence based on the results of the controversial referendum held on 1 October (42% participation, 90% in favor of the "yes"), but then suspended it for "a few weeks" to seek dialogue with Madrid.
Instead of clarifying whether or not he declared independence, President Puigdemont has chosen to respond with a letter, in which he asks Rajoy to accept the Catalan people's dialogue and to listen to the petitions in the next two months. He included the requests for mediation by various international mediators, a letter in favor of the dialogue signed by several Nobel Peace Laureates, as well as the results of the referendum on 1 October and the elections to the Catalan parliament of 2015, which gave the victory to the separatist coalition "Junts pel Sí", currently in government.
Rajoy’s government has responded that in the letter whether Puigdemont declared independence or not remains unspecified and asked for "clarity" before this Thursday, in order to avoid applying the Article 155 of the Constitution, which would mean the suspension of all autonomous institutions in Catalonia and the consequent call for regional elections.
In the reply letter sent by Rajoy to Puigdemont, the prime minister invites him to come to the Congress to discuss, as the Vice-President of the Government, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría explained this morning. "Let wisdom prevail," the vice president said.
"The Government regrets that Puigdemont has decided not to answer, because it was not very difficult to say yes or no, it was not complicated. Prolonging the situation only favors the radicals ", assured the vice president.
President Puigdemont is at a difficult crossroads. Its government partners - the separatist left-wing parties ERC and CUP - demands the unilateral declaration of independence, as required by the transitional law, passed by the Catalan parliament a month ago.
Both the law that approved the call for referendum and the law of transience were approved by the Catalan Parliament and subsequently suspended by the Constitutional Court. For this reason, Madrid deliberately opposed the holding of the referendum on 1 October. Perhaps too deliberately, as the central government's decision to move hundreds of national police officers and civil guards to Catalonia to precinct polling stations and prevent citizens from voting ended up with scenes of police violence that went round the world the world.
The videos and photographs of the Spanish police beating up elders and youth armed with ballots were an ugly blow to the image of Spanish democracy, and Rajoy is aware of it.
That is why he is trying to delay the application of Article 155, a drastic measure that will further spur Catalan independence and won’t be too well seen by the international community, even though the Spanish government has the full support of the European Union.