Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Wednesday, 11 november 2015 | HERALD SCOTLAND


Spain threatens to impose direct rule on Catalonia

Spain has threatened to impose direct rule on Catalonia.

For years the ruling rightist Popular Party in Madrid has taken an uncompromisingly legalistic stance on Catalan independence.

Now its leader, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, has formally raised the prospect of suspending devolution in Catalonia as the would-be breakaway nation takes its first tentative steps towards full sovereignty.
The Catalan parliament - dominated by a new alliance of independentistes - on Monday approved resolutions beginning a "road map" to independence.

Mr Rajoy facing a tough general election challenge next month, is expected to refer these resolutions to Spain's Constitutional Court, which has persistently ruled against any moves towards independence and blocked any suggestion of a Scottish-style referendum in Catalonia.
Mr Rajoy said: "We will respond with the rule of law but with the full rule of law."
International commentators, including figures from both sides of Scotland's independence debate, have criticised Mr Rajoy's response to the Iberian crisis as too narrowly legalistic and called for a political rather than judicial settlement.

Both Scottish nationalists and unionists have offered to mediate.

However, as Mr Rajoy gathered his cabinet for an emergency meeting on Tuesday it became clear that his approach enjoyed considerable political support in Spanish-speaking Spain.

Unionist newspapers in Madrid rallied to his support. El País headlined that "half of Catalonia has broken with Spanish democracy".
ABC, which is staunchly unionist, said the time had come for the law.
Mr Sánchez was Tuesday meeting with Socialist leaders in other Spanish regions - which all enjoy devolution - and Catalonia to discuss a response to the crisis.
The Socialists have traditionally been seen as pro-devolution.

However, their Catalan wing remains one of the few forces in the Spanish state which backs the kind of full federalism.

The Socialists suffered losses in September with the more staunchly unionist Cuitadans or Citizens Party picking up many of their voters.

The speaker or president of the Catalan parliament has shrugged off widely anticipated threats to shut down local democracy.

Carme Forcadell, a member of the biggest faction in parliament, the Junts pel Sí or Together for Yes slate, said pro-independence deputies had a "democratic mandate".

Some PP figures had suggested that Ms Forcadell could be held personally legally responsible for Monday's resolutions.
In a Catalan media interview, she accused Madrid of "scorning, harassing and intimidating" her chamber.
Madrid authorities have already targeted legal action against individual politicians.

Catalan President Artur Mas - who has still to be reappointed by parliament six weeks after the nation's general election in September - and of his ministers are currently facing a criminal action for holding a mock referendum a year ago.

Mr Rajoy is expected to formally ask the Constitutional Court to strike down the Catalan parliament's independence road map resolutions on Wednesday.

This paves the way for an unprecedented constitutional crisis in a European Union member state.

The Constitutional Court is being asked to annul a decision of what amounts to a regional parliament that the Constitutional Court's rulings have no power over that parliament.

This is an official translation of the document itself, from the Catalan parliament.
The threat to suspend devolution in Catalonia is reminiscent of moves in the UK to impose direct rule over Northern Ireland in 1972 at the height of the Troubles. This pre-dated Irish and UK membership of the Common Market.

Outside the EU, Russia's Vladimir Putin imposed direct rule on Chechnya in 2000. Devolution - if not meaningful democracy - has since been re-established.

Pro-independence media in Catalonia treated Monday's resolutions as an historic event.
Barcelona's Catalan language daily El Punt -Avui on Tuesday ran with a simple headline quoting the words of one of the resolutions: "The Parliament of Catalonia solemnly declares the start of the process to create an independent Catalan state in the form of a republic."

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Col·lectiu Emma is a network of Catalans and non-Catalans living in different countries who have made it their job to track and review news reports about Catalonia in the international media. Our goal is to ensure that the world's public opinion gets a fair picture of the country's reality today and in history.

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia