Mayhem in Catalonia over uncertain independence
After a day of confusion in Barcelona, President Carles Puigdemont said in a televised address that he had considered calling regional elections, but he didn’t get the concessions he sought from officials in Madrid. He said it’s now up to the Catalan parliament to decide what to do next.
Regional lawmakers began a plenary session at around 6 p.m. to debate their response as Spanish senators push ahead with legislation to hand Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy wide-ranging powers to remove the Catalan leadership under Article 155 of the constitution. As Puigdemont held out for a conciliatory gesture from Madrid that never came, two lawmakers quit his party in frustration that he was climbing down and demonstrators gathered outside his office shouting “traitor.”
“I tried to get the guarantees to carry out these elections, but didn’t get a responsible answer,” Puigdemont said. “It’s up to the parliament to move ahead with what the majority decides in relation to the consequences of the application of Article 155 against Catalonia.”
Barcelona is on a knife edge during a critical 48 hours for the biggest constitutional crisis the country has seen since an attempted coup in 1981. An election would have marked a capitulation by the separatist leadership after weeks brinkmanship that left Puigdemont facing a make-or-break decision that could either ease tensions or see him unilaterally declare Catalonia a sovereign republic.
“Events have slipped from his control,” said Angel Talavera, an analyst at Oxford Economics in London. “Today has been farcical.”