Catalonia Crisis: Could Things Get Any More Complicated?

The former President of the 'Generalitat de Catalonia' Carles Puigdemont voting in Parlament in favor of Declaration of Independence of Catalonia/ Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The former President of the 'Generalitat de Catalonia' Carles Puigdemont voting in Parlament in favor of Declaration of Independence of Catalonia/ Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime Minister, asked the Spanish Constitutional Court to block the former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont’s move to resume his position as the President of the region.  The Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced on Thursday night after his meeting with the Council of Ministers that his government would seek to block Puigdemont’s nomination.

In response to the Prime Minister’s instructions, the constitutional court of Spain has moved to block a Puigdemont candidacy in a statement, where the Court explained that the regional leader must have to appear to swearing-in in person. Given that Puigdemont has been charged with serious indictments which could jail him to thirty years in prison, any dramatic entrance of the deposed Catalan leader into Spain might result in his imprisonment.

Carles Puigdemont had been the president of the Catalan regional government until his government announced independence of Catalonia from Spain resulting the Spanish government-imposed Article 155 invalidating the Catalan government and the Parliament.  As a result, the former leader Puigdemont lost his position as the President of Catalonia and fled to Brussels amid the fear that the central government might seek his arrest.

The October referendum cast doubt on the future of the Catalan secessionist politicians after the Spanish police arrested some leaders including the former Vice President of the Catalan government Oriol Junqueras of the Catalan Republican Left.

The separatists, however, didn’t cease to exist. Following the October 1 referendum where the separatists claimed to have won more than 90% votes in favor of independence, the separatist politicians have apparently assembled more momentum even though the central government of Spain imposed Article 155 on the region invalidating its autonomous status and the Spanish police arrested some of its leaders.

Read More: Spain: Too Eager to Trigger the Article 155?

The Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, in pursuit of diffusing tension in the Catalan region, declared of an election in December last year. But the election turned out to be a boomerang for the Spanish government as the secessionist politicians gained an absolute majority in the December election in Catalonia. The Pro-Spanish political parties failed to have the 70 required seats in the Catalan parliament to form a government.

The Catalan people didn’t leave its secessionist leaders.

The Spanish leader Mariano Rajoy’s policies’ apparent failure in Catalonia came to light after his party ended up with just one seat in the Catalan Parliament. The intimidation and imprisonment of the secessionist leaders didn’t pay off to bring the ‘Rajoy-style’ stability the Spanish government was aiming at. The separatists’ stronghold didn’t just fade away.

When the secessionist parties had an absolute majority in the December election, it came to be an obvious fact that the Catalan people didn’t leave its secessionist leaders. The vote which was meant to be the inception of ‘stability’ for the Spanish side turned out to prove that more tension might follow in the coming days. Once the separatist bloc forms another government, it is not impossible that they might pursue what they couldn’t complete so far.

After the separatist bloc’s absolute victory in the election, the ‘repugnant return’ of the former Catalan leaders back to power was inevitable and the Spanish government had little to do. With just one seat in the Catalan Parliament, Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party also had a little to do. But the return of Carles Puigdemont back to the power of Catalonia seems to mean way too much for Mariano Rajoy and the Spanish government.

Now, be it Puigdemont or some other separatist leader to lead the Catalan government, the Spanish government already had a moral defeat in Catalonia after the Catalan voters chose the secessionists over pro-Spanish political parties. But the return of the former leader Puigdemont costs too much as it will turn the defeat of the Spanish government policies in Catalonia into a symbolic one.

Things in Catalonia dispute got more complicated on 22 January, when the Catalan Speaker Roger Torrent announced the nomination of the former Catalan President Puigdemont’s presidential candidacy. The Catalan Speaker said the former president’s candidacy “meets all the legal requirements and has absolute legitimacy.”

That the Rajoy government will not accept the return of the region’s deposed leader is obvious, things have potentials to get more complicated with Catalonia in the coming days. 

The Spanish government didn’t welcome the Catalan speaker’s announcement of a Puigdemont candidacy nor did it like the European Union’s call to “return to normalcy and allow Puigdemont to head the government.” Denouncing Puigdemont’s candidacy and in response to European Union’s call for normalcy, the Spanish Vice President Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the deposed Catalan leader “intends to put his own candidacy” above the law, but “respecting the law is the start of normalcy,” according to a BBC report.

The Catalan Parliament is due to vote on the Catalan Presidency by January 31 and no other names have been proposed so far except Carles Puigdemont. The Spanish government instructed the police to be on high alert on the French border worrying that the former Catalan leader Puigdemont might “attempt to sneak back into Spain.” And meanwhile, Puigdemont’s Together for Catalonia announced to file ‘criminal complaints’ against the Spanish Council of Ministers. To answer the question of Catalan normalcy, the Catalan Parliament has a few days in hand. That the Rajoy government will not accept the return of the region’s deposed leader is obvious, strong likelihood lies that situation in Catalonia will get more complicated in the coming days.

About Masum Billah 37 Articles
Masum Billah is a Staff Writer for The GeoStrategists. A Graduate from the Department of International Relations at the University of Dhaka, Masum Billah is a human rights activist. He writes columns on human rights, foreign policy, and terrorism.
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