The Catalan Show


Last night’s prime time show in the Catalan parliament served as a reminder of the seemingly  dangerously uncompromising nature of the current Spanish crisis, even if  it  seems to have  temporarily pulled back from the brink.

If there were highlights  from recent episodes of this seemingly  enduring melodrama  to  be drawn from previous episodes I would identify the following:


  • The unnerving site in early September of a small majority –less than the two-thirds required by the Catalan Statutes of Autonomy- of pro-independence  deputies  in the Catalan parliament bulldozing through their unilateral plans for a referendum  in which the result would be binding with a simple majority  and without requiring a minimum  turn out . The referendum was illegal according to the Statutes of Autonomy and the Spanish Constitution..



  • The large numbers of Catalans who turned up and voted for the referendum on October Ist, despite it being in clear breach of Spanish constitutional law, the Statutes of Autonomy and the guidelines of the Council of Europe for any  referendum in a EU member state.



An objective reading of the turn out and the result would suggest a large number of Catalans who do not want to be part of Spain, but well short of a clear legitimate mandate for independence, with Catalans showing their opposition to it  by  voting against and a majority staying away.


I am not alone in this interpretation.  Quite apart from the views of the elected Spanish government and  majority of the Spanish parliament, Mr Puigdemont’s has failed to secure any international support for the idea of a unilateral declaration of independence  based on his  referendum or its result.


  • Last Sunday’s demonstration in Barcelona by those who want Catalonia to remain part of Spain showed the growing strength of feeling of many Catalans who feel unpresented by Mr Puigdemont and other pro-inpendence politicians.



While  Catalonia is seemingly polarised between those who want Independence  and  those who don’t want it , there is I believe  an important constituency  of voters across Spain that would welcome  a new constitutional pact that would keep  Catalonia within Spain.


In his speech to the Catalan parliament  , Mr Puigdemont last night  described the October 1 referendum as a defining moment in  Catalan history and said  he  assumed the  responsibility of his offuce as President of the  Catalan government by  presenting the  ‘mandate’ that Catalonia become an independent state.


He went on to say that he would suspend implementing a Unilateral  Declaration of Independence to give time for a dialogue towards an agreement that would take into account the results of the referendum .  This was enough to have his more radical supporters feeling betrayed and abandoning their rally outside the parliament building in protest.

But the apparent false hood of his opening premise of  political legitimacy to go  ahead with independence sooner or later  on the basis of the referendum result also unsurprisingly  failed to convince all those opposed to the very idea- a majority in the Spanish parliament.

Puigdemont thus emerged from the evening, more demonised than ever by his opponents, and losing the support of some of his supporters  whose hopes he had raised of an immediate UDI . He is tainted now potentially as  Catalonia’s equivalent of the Grand Old Duke of York who as the old nursery rhyme goes, marched his men all the way to the top of the hill only to have them  march down again.

Like a Netflix series, this saga may be  far from over.  But last night the tide seemed to be turning against Catalonia becoming independent any time soon  and with growing calls for election to reestablish  a lawful  vote as an essential instrument of any serious democracy.

Without dialogue or votes, Catalonia may be condemned  to fighting out its future in the streets- a scenario that would be truly tragic.The show is over.







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  1. There is one easy way to stop any kind of show or chess game between both governments and we have been asking for it for 7 years. A referendum without repression. What’s the fear? That the pro-independence people would win. This is the only problem causing all the pain and tribulations. No other.

    Ask a group of people who is having lunch and I’ll stand in the way so you can’t see the show of hands, and then make the meal. Would you dare to say it is the fault of the prospective meal consumers or was it the person standing in the way that caused a confusing count?

    I am totally pro-independence, an independent Catalonia (and Galicia and País Basc if they so wished) connected to the remaining regions wanting to form Spain via treaties would solve the problem, give the Catalans back their much needed respect and right to decide and manage their own country, which is after all a feeling more than a definition of borders and leave Madrid to manage its own country via their obsolete PP-PSOE bi-party system, perhaps even forcing a bit of modernity on their debating methods and stimulating a more open-minded approach to the world. Their mayoress , after all, and many, many Madrileños are ready for progess. What is stopping them? The shadow of Franco, have no doubt and a strong whiff of anti-catalanism.

  2. Ashley Drake says:

    A superficial and inaccurate article lacking historical and political context.

    You have every right to state an opinion but please don’t claim to be neutral because you clearly aren’t.

  3. Norm says:

    Every vote and / or poll puts support for Catalan independence at around 40 % (at most) so you will probably find that you lose the vote.

    Cataluña is different to Scotland, historically Scotland was a separate country, Cataluña was part of the kingdom of Aragon so it’s claim to independence is more tenuous.

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