MS Risk Blog

Update on the situation in Catalonia

Posted on in Uncategorized title_rule

Since the independence forces obtained an absolute majority in seats in September 2015, but not in votes, in the Parliament of Catalonia, they cling to a unilateral agenda to proclaim independence from Spain, which was answered by the institutions of the State and has led to the current situation.

The culmination of the independence project began last September when the Catalan Parliament approved, against the warnings of the Constitutional Court, which declared an independence referendum unconstitutional, as well as any law that would serve to hold it, the Referendum Law, which authorized the Government of Catalonia to convene a referendum of independence, and the Law of Legal Transience, which would replace the Spanish legality in case the “yes” to independence won.

After the beginning of the coup d’état orchestrated by the Generalitat, which established the 1st October as the date for the referendum, the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia pose to prevent the consummation of the vote, for which it ordered the Civil Guard (GC), the National Police Force (CNP) and the Catalan autonomous police (the Mossos), requisition any material related to the vote, as well as propaganda material on the referendum and prevent political acts. Then begins a scuffle between the Government of Spain and the Generalitat in which websites are blocked, many voting materials are requisitioned, and at the same time the Generalitat disregards any order extended from the Government or from the Justice, the Government of Spain having to take full control of the Autonomous Community’s finances to avoid the use of public money to finance the referendum, and having to displace more than 10,000 agents of the GC and CNP from other regions of Spain to Catalonia, due to the disobedience and inactivity of the Mossos to avoid it.

The events of 1st October could be summarized as a chaotic day in which the Generalitat approved the universal census that allowed any citizen to vote anywhere there was a ballot box, which led to embarrassing situations such as the same person voting up to four times, minors exercising the vote, or people from other regions of Spain being able to vote if they were in Catalonia. Given the total ineffectiveness of the Mossos, who disobeyed the Justice order to stop holding the referendum, the GC and the CNP had to take over their functions and prevent, sometimes using force because of the resistance of the protesters, the voting in certain electoral points. The Generalitat made use of this violence as propaganda, accusing the Government of Spain of violating the rights of citizens and exaggerating the number of wounded during police charges. Without having finished the vote count, the Catalan authorities announced that 2,286,217 people had voted, of which 90 percent had voted in favour of independence, which legitimized the Generalitat to implement the Law of Legal Transience and proclaim independence in 48 hours. The electoral day was characterised by a total lack of democratic rigour, with people voting several times, ballot boxes arriving at polling stations filled with ballots, and with a result that reached up to 100.88 percent of votes.

The president of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, declared a few days later before the Catalan Parliament that he assumed “the mandate that the people of Catalonia become an independent State in the form of a republic” for eight seconds after proposing “that Parliament suspend the effects of the declaration of independence so that in the next weeks we can start a dialogue ». A dialogue that became a demand to the Government of Spain to mutually agree on the terms of independence or a new agreed referendum, something that led the Central Government to activate Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution to dismiss the Catalan Government, dissolve the rebel regional Parliament, and call for regional elections on 21st December to restore the rule of law in Catalonia. When the pro-independence leaders saw no way out, one day before article 155 was applied, they voted the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (DUI).

One day after the DUI, the former president of the Generalitat, who does not accept his dismissal by the Spanish authorities, moved with five ex-ministers of his Government to Brussels, with the intention of internationalizing the conflict. Members of the former Catalan government that remained in Spain were sent to prison in a preventive manner due to the risk of absconding and they will be accused of rebellion, insurrection and economic malfeasance. Similar charges will be filed against the president of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, and other members of the Bureau that allowed the vote of the DUI, which remain on probation. Given the refusal of the former president of the Generalitat to return to Spain to testify for the same crimes, the Spanish justice has issued an international arrest warrant against the former president and ex-ministers who seek refuge in Brussels, where they intend to slow down their extradition as long as possible.

Meanwhile, nearly 2,000 companies have left Catalonia due to the political instability, it is rumoured that Barcelona has ceased to be the preferred city to relocate the headquarters of the European Medicines Agency, which moves from London because of Brexit, the Mobile World Congress has threatened to change Barcelona as its headquarters by 2019 if Catalonia does not recover stability, and it is estimated that the Catalan crisis will cost the Spanish economy between 2,000 and 12,000 million euros.

Spain has received the support of the entire international community and the media, while the independence movement has failed in its attempt to internationalize the conflict and gather support. But the reasons that years ago led to a rise in the nationalist sentiment are still present in Catalan society, and it is the duty of both parts, the Central Government and the coming Generalitat, to repair the damage done and meet Catalan needs within the rule of law, respecting the Constitution and the unity of Spain.