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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Sunday, January 21, 2018


Catalan leader headed for a paradigm-shifting future?

Catalan leader is dealing with mounting pressure

Share on Facebook October 14, 2017, Reporter : BNN, Reader : 396


MADRID, Spain - Faced with a tough and defining choice between a bold future that will change the paradigms set over decades or sticking with more of the same - the Catalan leader is dealing with mounting pressure from all sides ahead of the Monday deadline.

The central government has set a Monday deadline for Catalan president Carles Puigdemont to make clear whether he has already declared independence for the region and to fall in line with Spain’s laws by October 19.


If he does the latter, he would avoid losing some or all of the region’s autonomous powers.

Amid the threats, hardliners in the separatist movement have demanded that Puigdemont declare independence from Spain once and for all. 

On the other hand, Spain’s government and the European Union, want him to abandon the secession plans altogether.

Last week, Spain’s deputy prime minister blamed Puigdemont for creating such economic uncertainty that a recession could be in the cards, and for sinking tourism figures. 

She pointed out that Spain’s government is considering lowering the growth forecast for the Spanish economy in 2018 if the standoff in Catalonia continues.

Following a weekly Cabinet meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Saenz de Santamaria clarified, “It’s just a yes or a no. It’s in Puigdemont’s hands” to avoid the extraordinary measures that would allow central authorities a partial or full suspension of the prosperous region’s autonomy.

Meanwhile, two key allies of Puigdemont’s government have called on him to ignore the Spanish government’s threats and press ahead with proclaiming a new republic.

In a letter to Puigdemont written on Friday, the far-left separatist Catalan party CUP said that the Catalan leader should ignore the Spanish government’s warning, lift the suspension and definitively proclaim independence.

Further, the Assemblea Nacional Catalana, or ANC, a civil society group that organized massive protests in support of secession, also issued a brief statement with a similar message.

ANC said in its statement, “It doesn’t make sense to keep the suspension of the independence declaration” given Madrid’s rejection of any dialogue.

Some politicians of the two parties in the ruling coalition have also expressed similar views on social media. 

So far, the Catalan government hasn’t expressed its intentions clearly, but local media said that meetings were held on Friday to discuss the same.

Last week, in his highly anticipated speech to regional lawmakers, Puigdemont said that Catalonia was proceeding with a declaration of independence from a mandate provided by an October 1 referendum.

However, he immediately suspended its implementation for a few weeks to allow for the possibility of negotiations with Spain. 

The move disappointed some of the hard-liners in the secessionist camp.

Spain, which had ruled that the referendum was illegal and unconstitutional, has said that its results are invalid. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has rejected any possibility of dialogue unless Puigdemont backtracks, returns “to legality” and takes independence off the table. 

Rajoy has clarified that Spain doesn’t need international mediators to get involved.

On Friday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker issued a statement, joining the appeal to the Catalan separatists for halting their secession bid.

Juncker said, “If Catalonia splits off, then others will do that too. I wouldn’t like that. I wouldn’t like a European Union that in 15 years consists of 98 states,” Juncker said in Luxembourg. “It’s already pretty difficult with 28.”

According to experts, if Puigdemont claimed he did declare independence, then he will have three more days to cancel any secession plans. If he refuses to, or doesn’t answer, Rajoy has, for the first time, threatened to trigger a constitutional article that could give central authorities power to intervene directly in Catalonia.

Holding the banned referendum despite court rulings and fierce opposition from Spain on October 1, Catalan leaders unleashed years of growing separatist sentiment.

According to figures released, about 2.3 million Catalans — or 43 percent of the region’s electorate — voted amid police violence to halt the referendum. 

While opponents boycotted the vote, Catalonia said 90 percent favored secession and it declared the results valid. 

Meanwhile, Soraya Sainz de Santamaria said on Friday that starting from a week before the vote, over 500 companies have moved their registered addresses out of the troubled region.

These companies include Catalan banks, multinationals and mid-size businesses amongst others.

Adding, “If there were no quick solution to this issue we should be forced to lower expectations of economic growth for the year 2018.”

However, experts have said that the move is so far mainly symbolic and it will have limited economic impact because it doesn’t involve relocating offices, jobs or assets.

Saenz de Santamaria said that the Catalan government is “creating the conditions to plunge Catalonia into a deceleration and even an economic recession.”


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