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Here’s the appalling spectacle: a referendum that had all the makings
of voting in a banana republic, and a declaration of
independence that nobody knows for sure
if it really was a declaration


by Christopher Collins

After the referendum on 1 October 2017 which had all the makings of voting on an absolutely crucial political issue in a banana republic, and especially after the baffling appearance of Catalan president Carles Puigdemont in the regional parliament of Catalonia on 10 October “to explain the political situation,” is Catalonia now an independent state?

The Parliament of Catalonia: the scene of secession?

Your guess is as good as mine. Puigdemont did unilaterally declare Catalonia’s independence from Spain and then almost in the same breath shot the brand new independence down:  “I want to follow people’s will for Catalonia to become an independent state. But we propose to suspend the effects of the independence declaration.”

Now what?

Now the central government of Spain steps in. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says on 11 October: “This morning, the Council of Ministers agreed to formally demand that the Regional Government of Catalonia confirm whether it has declared independence in Catalonia or not, as well as clarify the deliberate confusion as to when that independence is going to be in force.

The special Council of Ministers meeting, 11 October 2017, to demand that regional President Puigdemont of Catalonia clarify the declaration he made in the Catalan parliament. In the center, Prime Minsiter Rajoy.

“This demand, prior to any measures that the government may adopt under Article 155 of our Constitution, seeks to offer our citizens the clarity and certainty required of an issue of such magnitude.”

The central government of Spain is giving Puigdemont five days (till 16 October) to respond “satisfactorily”.

If not, Article 155 gets implemented.

Article 155:

  1. If a Self-governing Community [e.g., Catalonia] does not fulfil the obligations imposed upon it by the Constitution or other laws, or acts in a way that is seriously prejudicial to the general interest of Spain, the Government, after having lodged a complaint with the President of [that] Self-governing Community and failed to receive satisfactory response, may, following approval granted by the overall majority of the Senate, take all measures necessary to compel the Community to meet said obligations, or to protect the abovementioned general interest.
  2. With a view to implementing the measures provided for in the foregoing paragraph, the Government may issue instructions to all the authorities of the Self-governing Communities.

In short, Article 155 allows the central government to take control of an autonomous region if that region (“Self-governing Community”) jeopardizes the “general interest” of Spain. The government in Madrid can – and, if push came to shove, will – take over the region and run it.

Since 5 October 2017, centennary Banc Sabadell has transfered its corporate headquarters from Barcelona to Alicante in the autonomous region of Valencia

Meanwhile, because of the political instability generated by Catalan politics, hundreds of companies — multinationals and PyMEs (small and medium-size enterprises) — are stampeding out of Catalonia.  That is, they’re transferring their headquarters out, including the absolutely iconic Aguas de Barcelona, Caixa, Freixenet, Planeta-DeAgostini, and Banc Sabadell. Nearly six hundred as of now.

In all probability, that’s one of the major reasons Puigdemont has suspended his region’s independence immediately after declaring it. The massive exodus is literally giving him pause.


Bananas/S. Ken, CC BY2.0 via Flickr
Parliament/JasonParis, CC BY2.0 via Flickr
Council of Ministers/Pool Moncloa/Cesar Sendra
Sabadell/Zarateman, PD