by Graham Pierrepoint
It’s one of the tensest and most fascinating political fallouts in recent years – anything taking place in the US and the UK aside, Spain has taken center stage for much geopolitical drama this fall, with an independence referendum for the region of Catalonia having taken place without the main state’s consent. The main issue at stake here is that, despite many Catalonians having campaigned to split away from the Spanish government, the latter has ruled such a referendum illegal – and it has led to the heads of both Spain and Catalonia coming to blows in recent weeks.
What has occurred most recently – at the time of writing – is that Spain has effectively imposed direct rule over the region of Catalonia after its President, Carles Puigdemont, refused to step down from his push for splitting away from the main government. Puigdemont had advised publicly that the only way to resolve the issue would be to engage in discussion – but a deadline imposed by the Spanish has expired, causing their autonomy to effectively be quashed. Spain had demanded, essentially, that Catalonia desist in seeking independence – and the move to quash them has been met by resistance and support on either side. It truly is becoming an extremely volatile situation.
Catalonia’s President has advised that Spanish actions in this manner effectively ‘hinder dialogue’ – while the Spanish state advised that they would be seeking to ‘restore constitutional ode in the autonomous community’ in a cabinet meeting to take place over the weekend. However, as enshrined in article 155 of their law, Spain will need to formally complain to Puigdemont before returning to their own parliament to seek approval. Therefore, matters aren’t even as cut and dried as are being suggested. It remains an intensely interesting – and sometimes confusing – affair.
Spain asserts that Puigdemont has not officially declared independence and that the actions taken by authorities in the region are causing ‘serious damage’ to ‘coexistence and Catalonia’s economy’. Spanish police had moved in to cease the aforementioned referendum from taking place – and it’s thought almost half of the country had taken part thus far. It’s clearly a matter which divides people in the region and in the mainland.
What now for Catalonia? With its President claiming that Spain has avoided discussion and with the Spanish state asserting that the referendum and associated actions were harmful and illegal with regard to the Catalonian people, it seems that a clear ending is yet to appear – though quite where the middle ground will be found, no one’s quite sure.