Voices from Russia

Saturday, 28 October 2017

A Day of High Drama: What Do We Know So Far About the Catalan Push for Independence?


The Spanish-Catalan crisis seems to be escalating to the point-of-no-return. Supporters of independence called for a “campaign of disobedience” following Madrid’s move to dissolve the region’s parliament and impose direct rule. Here’s a short summary of what happened in Spain on Friday.

Catalonia seems dauntless in its efforts to break away from Spain. Secessionists called on fellow Catalonians to disobey the decision of the Spanish central government to impose direct rule over the rebellious region. The Catalan National Assembly, which hopes to achieve political independence for the region, urged civil servants not to follow orders from the Spanish government and opt for “peaceful resistance”. Antonio Barroso, Managing Director and Deputy Director of Research at Teneo Intelligence (advisory firm focusing on Eurozone and political and economic developments in Southern Europe and France) suggested in a note to Reuters:

Demonstrators might try to prevent the police from removing Catalan ministers from their offices if the central government decides to do so. This increases the risk of violent clashes with the police.

The Saddest Day in Spain’s History

Friday, 27 October 2017, went down as one of the saddest days in Spain’s modern history. Just hours after the Catalan parliament declared the region an independent nation from Spain in a secret ballot, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dissolved the regional legislative body, sacked its President Carles Puigdemont as well as its police chief, and stripped the province of its autonomy. In a televised address, Rajoy stated that Madrid would take over the Catalan administration and that central government ministries would directly assume its powers until snap regional elections on 21 December. Central administrators will take control of the regional police force, Mossos d‘Esquadra. If deemed necessary, national police would replace local elements. They’re already on site, as Madrid deployed them there for the 1 October independence referendum. According to reports, the Spanish Economy Ministry has already increased its control over regional finances in an attempt to prevent the use of state funds for a possible secession bid. Madrid will try to maintain full financial control over the region; reportedly, it’s started paying directly for essential services.

Following the decision of its parliament, thousands of Catalans gathered in Sant Jaume Square in front of  Catalan regional headquarters in Barcelona, celebrating their independence and shouting “liberty”. Judging by the mood of the crowd, many media sources suggested that there’d “almost certainly be resistance in Catalonia to any move to impose Madrid’s rule over the province”. Ousted Catalan President Puigdemont tweeted:

Catalonia is and will be a land of freedom. In times of difficulty and in times of celebration. Now more than ever.

On Sunday, the Barcelona-based newspaper El Periodico published the results of an opinion poll, which revealed that a snap regional election would probably have results similar to those of 2015. In that election, a coalition of pro-independence parties formed a minority government.

Reaction to Catalan Independence Push

Many Twitter users have already suggested that Catalonia will eventually gain independence, as the USA, Ireland, and a number of other countries once did. Meanwhile, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said:

The independence vote changed nothing and the EU would only deal with the central government.

As for other world’s powers, the UK also voiced its reluctance to recognise the region’s sovereignty. The USA, Germany, France, Cyprus, Turkey, and Mexico said they backed the unity of Spain. However, Željka Cvijanović, Prime Minister of Republika Srpska, suggested that her region could become the first to recognise Catalan independence. On the other hand, Serbia said it supported the territorial integrity of Spain. The South Ossetian Foreign Minister Dmitri Medoev echoed the decision of Republika Srpska.  He told Sputnik on Saturday that South Ossetia is ready to consider recognising Catalonia’s secession from Spain if it receives a corresponding request from the region’s authorities.

28 October 2017

Sputnik International


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