October 11, 2017

HMM: A Full-Blooded Separatist Retreat in Catalonia.

After rowdy demonstrations, a covert referendum (which drew a violent response from Spanish police) and vows to set up a new republic, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont blinked.

Many lawmakers gathered for a special session of the regional legislature were hoping to hear a declaration of independence. Instead, he put the process on hold to make another appeal for talks with the Spanish government. No deadline. No leverage. And Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s response was powerful: he started the process that could see Puigdemont’s administration stripped of its powers.

Already last night cracks were opening up in the separatist coalition, suggesting a regional election may be necessary next year.

That line about stripping the Puigdemont administration of its powers is more fully explained in this report:

Mariano Rajoy said he had asked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to confirm whether or not he has declared independence.

The move is a first step towards activating Article 155 to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy.

On Tuesday Mr Puigdemont signed a declaration of independence, but halted implementation to allow negotiations.

Mr Rajoy accused Mr Puigdemont of creating “deliberate confusion” and said he wanted to restore “certainty”.

“This call – ahead of any of the measures that the government may adopt under Article 155 of our constitution – seeks to offer citizens the clarity and security that a question of such importance requires,” Mr Rajoy said.

The BBC goes on to report that “Article 155 has never been used before and there are disagreements about how it would work in practise,” but it has been described elsewhere as the “nuclear option” for stripping Spain’s constitutionally powerful regions of their autonomy.