On Tuesday evening at 1900 local time on 10th. October Catalan President Carles Puigdemont made a declaration of independence for Catalonia. He has taken this action based on the landslide, yet disputed, referendum result held on 1st October. However, moments later he said he would suspend the effects of this declaration to enable negotiation to take place. The central government of Spain has so far given little to no indication that it wants to talk. The central government’s official position is that it does not accept the declaration nor does it consider the referendum result valid.

The response

According to AP News, the #Spanish Prime Minister #Mariano Rajoy demanded on Wednesday morning that Catatan’s leader clarify whether independence had been declared.

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Rajoy issued a veiled threat that central government could rescind or reduce Catalonia’s autonomy if they have declared independence. It is the first time the Prime minister has said that he would enact Article 155 of the Spanish constitution. Article 155 allows the central government to take total control of any of Spain’s seventeen regions if they fail to comply with their legal obligations.

The referendum

Nearly two and half million Catalans voted in the unsanctioned independence referendum on 1st October, which returned a ninety percent majority. Those that voted only represent forty-three percent of the electorate in Catalonia and citizens opposed to the referendum said they would boycott. Rajoy’s government repeatedly refused permission for the vote based on it being unconstitutional.

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Citing that only a portion of Spain’s forty-six million residents would be able to vote in such a referendum.

Divided

Recent events in Barcelona suggest that Catalonia may be more divided on the issue of secession than the vote represents. On Sunday morning 350,000 citizens flooded the streets in support of remaining united. However, similar numbers of people have turned out in recent months supporting secession. Additionally, a poll taken shortly before the referendum showed the voters being roughly divided on the matter.

Europe

This political deadlock has left Spain dealing with its worst crisis for four decades. Shortly before the announcement, Donald Tusk, the president of the Europian council, asked Puigdemont to step back for a unilateral declaration of independence to allow a dialogue with Rajoy. Europe is watching the crisis intently since the outcome could have wide-ranging effects for the rest of the union.