For the moment, Russia considers what’s happening in Catalonia as an internal issue and the country’s television channels are focusing on the violence in the region, without getting to the political issue itself. For the time being. Except if the problem stops being a domestic one and – for whatever reason- becomes an international one.
The next chapter of the “Catalan saga” was revealed today. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has now warned that on Saturday article 155 of the Constitution will be implemented to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy. And amid this endless craziness, Puigdemont says that if this finally happens, the declaration of independence will be declared.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont had until 10 am on Monday 16 October to clarify whether he has declared independence or not. As was widely expected, he answered PM Mariano Rajoy in an ambiguous way, with neither a clear yes nor a no. He has until Thursday at 10 am to avoid the government applying article 155 of the Constitution.
We have reached the next stage in the Catalan crisis. Rajoy’s government – with the agreement of Pedro Sánchez and the Cs – has requested that Catalan president Puigdemont clarifies whether or not there has been a declaration of independence. Otherwise, article 155 of the Constitution will be implemented, implying a limitation on the region’s autonomy. Against this backdrop, Spaniards’ confidence is being eroded.
In a surprisingly statesman-like manner, Carles Puigdemont performed a balancing act in respecting the referendum result, safeguarding his support from the independence movement, and avoiding total escalation with Spain.
After confusing messages from Catalan government about yesterday unilateral but at the same time suspended independence declaration, the Spanish PM Rajoy has decided to trigger Article 155 which will be used to suspend the regional administration and take direct control of Catalonia.
A few days ago, a week ago, the unilateral and seditious declaration of independence in Catalonia seemed to be on the cards, almost inevitable in fact. But the King’s speech last Tuesday and the demonstrations in Barcelona and other cities involving both Spaniards and Catalans have changed the dynamic of the process.
Since the segregation process in Catalonia began, one got the feeling that it would be a serious risk to our country’s economic stability. Spain would pay a high price for the loss of its main economic region, which accounts for about 20% of GDP.
The Catalan government and its parliamentary majority have gone the whole hog to achieve their final objective: a unilateral declaration of independence which brings the Spanish government to their knees to accept their requests with very favourable conditions to construct this new state, whatever it takes.
At the moment, the biggest losers in the Ibex 35 index after Sunday’s referendum vote in Catalonia are the banks, particularly the Catalan lenders. Both Sabadell and CaixaBank have acknowledged that if independence were to happen, they would move their headquarters to another autonomous region in Spain. In this way they would keep their access to the ECB’s liquidity and their clients would remain under the protection of the national and European Deposit Guarantee Fund. But perhaps it’s too soon to ring the alarm bells: while the Ibex dropped, other European bourses rose. This shows that Catalonia is still far from becoming a systemic risk for the EU.