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Catalonia in Political Chaos
By admin November 9, 2017

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In early October, The Bassiouni Group (TBG) posted a blog on the Catalonian independence movement outlining the options both sides had in the situation. At the time, the referendum vote just happened, producing a “yes” vote to secede from the central government. Potential negotiations were on the table, and if those failed, the central government was threatening to use Article 155 of their constitution to strip the regional government’s authority.

Now a month on, the region has fallen into political chaos, as the government was forced to use their remaining weapon against former Catalonian President Puigdemont and his government by removing him from office and his top ministers on October 28th. Puigdemont and four other officials fled to Belgium and were arrested under a European arrest warrant while nine other top officials were arrested and jailed in Madrid. They are charged with rebellion sedition, and embezzlement.

Over the past week the central government has solidified its control over the region while Puigdemont tries to hold onto influence from Belgium. Today, Spain’s Constitutional Court officially annulled the declaration of independence made last month, which spurred thousands of protestors in Barcelona. A previously planned protest strike across Catalan shut down trains and traffic across the region today that caused a unique quietness in many urban areas.

Along with the annulment, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called for snap elections to take place on December 21st, where Spain’s government hopes Puigdemont cannot hold his majority. This seems likely, as Puigdemont’s center- right party, the Catalan European Democratic Party, and it’s pro- independence ally, the Catalan Republican Left, missed the deadline to apply for a coalition. This agreement originally put Puigdemont in power, but recent polls show that the Republican Left are in the lead and will only expand their position over the next month. In second and third place are the liberal Ciudadanos and Catalan Socialists, who both advocated against independence. Many argue that low voter turnout in the 2015 election and last month’s referendum has helped the separatists, but a charged election will bring out a silent majority that supports the central government. This argument does hold serious wait as thousands have come to the streets of Barcelona over the past month to support unity, often showing the same strength and passion as the separatist movement.

Thus, the future of Catalan’s independence movement will turn to campaign politics to establish what platform is best for the future of the region. Even if the Republican Left takes majority in December, it is unknown that any action to reach independence can be fulfilled after the central government triggered Article 155. However, if a large turnout of voters chooses a separatist platform again, both sides would have to reevaluate their strategy.

 

Further Reading:

As Protesters Clog Catalonia, Court Snuffs Out Declaration Of Independence

Catalan separatists to contest election separately

Catalonia’s Independence Bid Shows Signs of Strain as Coalition Splits

Charges against Puigdemont explained


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