Carles Puigdemont Turns the Tables on Rajoy 266

Before his speech on Independence to the Catalan parliament, Carles Puigdemont seemed to be in an impossible position. Declare Independence and he would be immediately arrested and direct rule imposed from Madrid. Rajoy appeared to have all the angles covered; the EU had already specifically greenlighted the use of armed force in Commissioner Timmermans’ disgraceful address to the EU Parliament. The intergovernmental side of the EU, the Council, had through its President Donald Tusk called on Puigdemont not not to declare Independence but rather to enter dialogue, in terms that accepted the Spanish insistence that the very notion of Independence was inadmissible.

So Puigdemont was placed by the right wing governments of Europe into a position where if he declared Independence he would be portrayed as an unreasonable fanatic refusing dialogue, and his imprisonment would be portrayed as justified. On the other hand, if he did not declare Independence he would appear a traitor to his own supporters, would be breaking the referendum law of his own Catalan parliament and the cause of Independence would be damaged by disillusion.

The entire World was wondering how Puigdemont would deal with this fix. His answer was peculiarly brilliant. He started off by speaking at length of the history of Catalonia’s attempts to enter dialogue on more devolution, and their constant rebuttal by Madrid. This was so reasonable and effective that the live blog of the rabidly Unionist Guardian plain refused to translate or summarise any of it (see 18.31 here).

Puigdemont effectively turned the tables on Rajoy by both declaring Independence and not declaring Independence. He proclaimed the result of the referendum and said as a consequence the parliament would declare Independence, but in the next breath announced they would seek dialogue on the way forward with Spain. All media sources are saying that he stated Independence would be declared but suspended for two weeks pending dialogue. Unless the Deutsche Welt interpreter missed it, this did not come across as I listened live and I wonder if there was a last minute change to the circulated text. But the effect of what he said was much the same.

It is Rajoy who is now in the impossible position. The World has seen a very mild and moderate Puigdemont positively pleading for dialogue and mediation. It is going to be very difficult for Rajoy to arrest him for that. More importantly, Puigdemont appears to have acceded to the request of Donald Tusk and the European Council. But he has done so safe in the knowledge that Rajoy will not enter dialogue and never had any intention of doing so.

There are only two possible outcomes of a dialogue or mediation. One is greatly enhanced powers for Catalonia in a new devolution settlement. The second is an an agreed and binding Independence referendum. But Rajoy has taken a line of absolutist opposition to either of these ways forward, which opposition is fundamental to his centralising, Francoist world view. Rajoy, having whipped up Spanish nationalism to violent fever pitch, cannot give any ground to Catalonia without substantially alienating his own Francoist core support.

Puigdemont, in short, has acceded to EU calls for dialogue and negotiation which he knows Rajoy will refuse. As it becomes ever more evident that Rajoy has no plan at all except violence, the popular revulsion across Europe against the Francoists will gather momentum.

Puigdemont appeared boxed in, but he has skipped past Rajoy and left him sitting on his arse in the mud.


I continue urgently to need contributions to my defence in the libel action against me by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of Daily Mail online. You can see the court documents outlining the case here. I am threatened with bankruptcy and the end of this blog (not to mention a terrible effect on my young family). Support is greatly appreciated. An astonishing 4,000 people have now contributed a total of over £75,000. But that is still only halfway towards the £140,000 target. I realise it is astonishing that so much money can be needed, but that is the pernicious effect of England’s draconian libel laws, as explained here.

On a practical point, a number of people have said they are not members of Paypal so could not donate. After clicking on “Donate”, just below and left of the “Log In” button is a small “continue” link which enables you to donate by card without logging in.

For those who prefer not to pay online, you can send a cheque made out to me to Craig Murray, 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8BA. As regular readers know, it is a matter of pride to me that I never hide my address.

Allowed HTML - you can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

266 thoughts on “Carles Puigdemont Turns the Tables on Rajoy

1 2 3
  • Laguerre

    As I suggested in the thread before last, we’re getting into a world where, as proposed by Futurologists, the EU is composed not of nation states, but of regional identities. If they are members of the EU, as desired, that means more power to the EU, and a United States of Europe. Not surprisingly, the nation states are absolutely opposed.

    • craig Post author

      The theory that Catalonian Independence is a dastardly plot by the EU to have smaller member states, is slightly dented by the EU’s frenetic opposition to Catalan independence and insistence independent Catalonia would be kicked out, don’t you think?

      What we are seeing is rather the replacement of supranational states by nation states.

      • Laguerre

        “The theory that Catalonian Independence is a dastardly plot by the EU to have smaller member states,”

        Did I say that? It seemed to me that what I was saying was that if the movement was towards smaller national units, and that was accepted by the EU, the result would be to put the EU in a much more powerful position.

        • MBC

          I don’t come to that conclusion at all. And the proposal for a United States of Europe based on smaller regional states with real identities was proposed in 1702 on the eve of the War of the Spanish succession as France, England and Austria faced each other off for control of the European continent, by Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, the Scottish patriot and republican writer who argued passionately against the Union of 1707. He saw that true democracy on the Athenian model was only possible if the units making it up were roughly the same size, and were based on real peoples. Because Europe is a checkerboard of such small communities with diverse geographies and economies. Yet there are still zones of interest, though those are based on natural features such as geography and climate and therefore economy, not on the fiefdoms of warlords or the lottery of dynastic marriage.

      • Josep

        You are right. I think Michael Portillo got it wrong, the EU is pushing exactly in the opposite direction in the case of Spain, I agree with you that they gave Mariano Rajoy the green light to use violence if he had needed to.
        But we have to take on account that France position is very clear on the subject and can’t accept an independent Catalonia just like Turkey can’t accept an independent Kurdistan in Iraq.
        They are scared of dissolving Spain, a country that have no chance at all to survive if Catalonia achieve independence since it will end butchered in at least 5 countries. Of course, that dynamic could blown up the euro.
        So, I do think that the EU is in a very tough spot.

  • Republicofscotland

    It was very difficult for Puigdemont to openly declare independence for the Catalan people. Especially with gunships and a cruise liner full of Spanish paramilitary police waiting at the docks, who on Rajoys orders, could’ve been deployed at very short notice to seize the parliament and arrest everyone for sedition.

    Instead as you say Puigdemont played it very cagey, trying to placate those who voted yes to independence, but also trying to show Madrid and the world, for that matter, that they are open to dialogue, with the Spanish government, as they always have been.

    Where does Puigdemont go from here, Spain in my opinion will be very reluctant to give the Catalan government more autonomy, than they already have. However if Puigdemont does implement independence in the coming weeks, what will Madrid’s reaction be knowing fine well the world’s is watching.

    It’s a game of timing, and approval I think.

    • Frank Senyed

      Please, try to avoid inaccurate words. It’s important for understanding the issue. There is no “paramilitary” police in Spain. Absolutely, not. All the different bodies: Ertzainza, in Vasc Country; Mossos in Cataluña; and Policía Nacional and Guardia Civil for the whole Spain, all of them are constitutional polices.

  • Matt

    It’s going to be interesting how the EU member states will refuse to recognise an independant Catalnoia, while expelling them from the EU.

    Expulsion is de facto recognition. How does one go about expelling a state that does not exist?

    • Alex

      They won’t have to expel Catalonia, it will simply not be part of the EU once they secede from Spain. And it probably never would be.

      • Matt

        You miss the point. How will they not be a member of the EU after they secede? If they are not independant, they are part of Spain, an EU nation. As soon as you say they are no longer in the EU, you have recognised them as a seperate entity to Spain, they are distinct with distinct borders and economy.

        If Catalonia remians a Spainish region, and Spain is an EU country, then Catalonia is a region in an EU country.

        • Matt

          Consider this…

          I am the French leader (God help me) and Catalonia unilaterally declares independance.

          I refuse to recognise them. France considers Catalonia to be Spanish territory, their citizens are Spanish.

          I now say that Catalnoia is not a part of the EU, even though Spain remains in the EU.

          This is a contradiction. I have just said that the Spanish citizens in a Spanish region are no longer EU citizens.

          Merely saying Catalonia is not in the EU is to recognise they are no longer a part of Spain. This is de facto recognition.

          • Laguerre

            I don’t follow your logic at all. Catalonia is not expelled from the EU. It is just as an independent state not a member, and has no standing other than through Spain.

          • Alex

            I’m with Laguerre, your logic is flawed (or I’m really entirely missing your point). Catalonia is no more a member of the EU than Scotland is. Or Bavaria or any other state within the EU-member-states. So a successful secession from Spain would leave them outside of the EU, with or without recognition by other countries. Recognition would be a first step back in, except that Spain and probably other members would never allow Catalonia to join.

            This fact is central to Craigs campaigning for a second independence referendum in Scotland.

          • Martinned

            I think the point is inherently sound, but it will depend on whether the UDI effects any actual change. (Which depends on whether Puigdemont c.s. have been making preparations.)

            A UDI per se doesn’t change anything if everyone who works for the Spanish government just shrugs and continues to do their jobs. Any police loyal to the Generalitat can be replaced by national police, and if everything else keeps going as before, no foreign countries have to recognise anything and the Spanish can simply lock Puigdemont up.

            But if the UDI is followed by actual change, in the form of border checks on the border between rump-Spain and Catalunya, widespread unwillingness to obey Spanish laws, etc., then foreign countries would have to recognise that at least de facto.

            For an analogy, see Crimea. No one has much patience with Putin’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, but if a French citizen gets in trouble there, the French diplomats in the area will still talk to the Russians to sort that out, not the Ukranians.

            But de facto recognition and de jure recognition are not the same thing, and they can diverge for years and decades. Very few countries formally recognise Taiwan – even Taiwan technically doesn’t think Taiwan is a country – but most countries have some form of diplomatic representation there. If the Taiwanese navy invaded one of the Spratly islands, foreign governments wouldn’t make angry calls to Beijing. But none of that is the same as recognition.

    • Martinned

      In the same way that North Cyprus is part of the EU, because it is part of Cyprus, but at the same time the effects of the Acquis are suspended there under Protocol 10 to the Accession Treaty:

      (Although, for entertainment, back when I was in academia I once supervised a Masters dissertation by a North Cypriot student who argued that, while the Acquis might be suspended in North Cyprus, she – as a (North) Cypriot citizen – was still an EU citizen with all the rights that come with that when travelling outside North Cyprus. That’s certainly an interesting idea, although I’m not sure how much luck she had with it when dealing with immigration.)

  • Walter Cairns

    In other words, as I and many others predicted, he fudged – however you dress it up. Everybody can claim victory, even the EU. And this overrrated region with its overrated language and overrated football team will continue to bathe in its hue of martyrdom and self-righteousness.

    • Matt

      Haha Barcelona “overrated”.

      Why are you so bitter? I’m genuinely curious. I have no vested interest in this at all, however it’s natural for me to default on the side of a people’s right to self determination, as protected under the UN charter, especially when under the rule of a fascist government.

      I’m curious if you’re invested in this one way or another, or if you’re just an observer like myself who just happens to take an opposing view for whatever reason.

  • Brianfujisan

    I watched the Speech Live too.. Yes there was the few minutes dead silence from the interpreter

    And good move from Puigdemont voicing the Scant whispers of concern from the U.N…Scant Concern indeed.

  • Sm Sung

    Delayed for an hour due to “meeting” with Juncker, it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that Puigdemont bottled it after threats and/or bribes from the EU. Catalan independence supporters have to be bitterly disappointed.

    • K.A.Mylchreest

      Yep, I think he was got at. Will we ever learn the truth of what transpired, I wonder?

      • Sm Sung

        That’s what they said on the Sky/BBC news as reason for the delay. In any case, he could have achieved catalan immortality tonight in announcing independence and I doubt he held back due to the ridiculous coercion from Madrid. At least in my opinion, the EU – a worthless, moribund organisation rapidly turning into an evil empire – stayed his hand.

        • fred

          The meeting was with CUP, they didn’t like what he was going to say and wouldn’t approve it.

          • Sm Sung

            Ok thanks. Well I can’t in all honesty blame them. Pathetic. He could have been a catalan hero for all time, instead he failed his people.

  • Laguerre

    Craig is getting very Brexiter. The fact is that today you can’t live a life of economic independence. Economies are too intertwined.

    • What's going on?

      I’m afraid that’s a sentiment I share. Craig also said more than once that racism was the reason behind not wanting to be part of the EU. How ironic!

  • K.A.Mylchreest

    Well I do very much hope your analysis is correct, and you after all are the expert … but …

    I seemed to see a man who chickened out at the last moment and blinked first. Thus handing the initiative to Rajoy. Before the two weeks are over, perhaps much sooner, Spain will have stormed in, figuratively and perhaps literally, and imposed direct rule over Catalonia (just as the UK did over NI when it abolished Stormont). If we could do it why can’t they? They’ll just say to Pudjie, “You and who’s army?” No need to arrest him, deprived of any legal power he’s just one more face in the crowd.

    I hope I’m wrong, but with the EU (to the surprise and shock of myself, and no doubt many) backing Madrid and not even the small recently free nations coming in behind Catalonia, what is to prevent Spain now walking all over them?

    • Matt

      The difference being, to call Northern Ireland a “nation” is tenuous… they are colonists. Their culture, heritage, ancestory, language… it is shared with the English. Do the Northern Irish have a right to self determination, protected by the UN Charter? I’m no expert but it would surprise me.

      It’s clear the Catalans are their own “people”, they are a nation. They are protected under the UN Charter. Whether that will be upheld is another matter, but if it isn’t, it’s cause more problems than a UDI.

      • K.A.Mylchreest

        I agree, but I was thinking of the constitutional mechanics rather than the ‘nation’ question. It could be argued that NI was/is part of the nation of Ireland that for historical reasons the UK was either unwilling or unable to let go of. Thus a subordinate statelet was set up with many devolved powers but ultimately subordinate to WM. When Stormont lost control of the situation, WM imposed direct rule, (initially welcomed by the Catholics/Nationalists).
        So why can’t Madrid simply claim that the situation is out of control in Catalonia (and if necessary make damn sure that it is … not too difficult, surely). Then like any imperial power they step in to “restore order”. It’s clear that the Catalan government have been very naughty boys and girls and so the ‘adults’ must come and sort them out. (If nothing else this could at least be an object lesson for Scotland …)
        Two weeks ought to be more than enough time to get the pot boiling over …

        • Matt

          “(If nothing else this could at least be an object lesson for Scotland …)”

          I would hope not. I would hope that the UK continues to provide legal avenues to the Scottish so long as there is an appetite for independance.

          It could well be a lesson on the effects of a UDI, however I would sincerely hope it does not come to that here, for it would imply that the UK is not acting legally and in good faith.

          Spain are certainly not acting in good faith; as for if they are acting legally, it doesn’t appear so from my unqualified perspective, with regards to the UN Charter at least.

          I’m not sure Spain has a leg to stand on, if only the international community regonised that the right of Catalonia to self determination trumps any constitutional obligations they have to Spain.

          • K.A.Mylchreest

            Certainly the UK authorities are a good deal more subtle than Madrid, to say the very least. They rely on misinformation and manipulation of public opinion rather than crude threats, and even cruder actions. But none the less the time to decide may come, and when it does we must hope that we have a leadership willing and able to grasp the thistle, for what the Catalan situation may well show is that “He who hesitates is lost”. Not that I envy the position the got themselves into, but then that’s grown-up politics, I suppose.

            “Once in every man and nation, comes the moment to decide … and the choice goes by forever, twix the darkness and the light” (IIRC)

    • Parth

      I agree with you that Puigdemont appears to have blinked, but do not think that it is fair to describe that as ‘chickening out’. In my opinion, he was left with little choice, now that the European Union has lined up squarely behind Rajoy. If he had gone ahead and declared independence, he would have been arrested and Rajoy would have imposed direct rule over Catalonia according to Article 155 of their constitution. Puigdemont’s only hope of avoiding this would have been strong pressure from the major EU countries on Madrid not to do so, but as it became obvious that the EU was going to back Rajoy against him, he was left with little choice but to toe the line and respond positively to the call made by Donald Tusk for ‘dialogue’.

      One unintended consequence of all this, however, appears to be a shift in opinion among many Remoaners (and especially, among Scottish Nationalists) about the pros and cons of Brexit.

      • Mochyn69


        That says all we need to know about your point of view, doesn’t it.


      • Ken Bell

        Yes, without a doubt. To be fair, very many SNP members helped the Brexit cause last year. Sturgeon ordered them to campaign for Remain and threatened expulsions to any who disobeyed, but the numbers involved were too great for that threat to be carried out. For instance, in the Fife, virtually the whole Brexit campaign was run by dissident SNPers.

        Also to be fair, it looks to me as if the SNP’s commitment to the Federast cause is really only skin deep. Their USP is independence, and during the IndyRef much talk was made about how the EU would ensure that the transition to independence was smooth and seamless. That’s why the Yooners made the point that a vote for independence was a vote to leave the EU. OK, for me that was one of the reasons why I voted Yes in 2014, but I suspect that it worked as planned for a lot of other people.

        Going back to Catalonia, you have to understand just how linked the Scottish and Catalan nationalists are. When Madrid tried to ban the Barcelona fans from waving their Esteladas as a major match, the fans said they would carry Saltires instead, which led to Madrid backing down. On the weekend before the IndyRef vote, Edinburgh was awash with both Saltires and Esteladas.

        I have no doubt that the Federast cause has taken a hit in Scotland.

        • K.A.Mylchreest

          Ken Bell : In theory an overarching Europe-wide system of laws and conventions etc. should make it much easier for existing states to split-up, or for that matter (re-)join or otherwise restructure their individual relationships. However a rigid Union that Chooses not to permit such things, in the present case Catalan and/or Scottish independence, is a Union I have no longer have much commitment to.

          How I wonder would they deal with a split-and-join situation like a possible Irish reunification?

      • K.A.Mylchreest

        Parth : I was for Remain, but to say the least, the attitude of the EU to Catalonia/Spain has severely shaken my belief in the EU as a force for good. If it’s just to be a club for a handful of big ‘imperialistic’ nations, a club to beat everyone else over the head with, Spanish-style, then we’re better out. Or rather we need to build a new organisation that somehow represents all the *peoples* of Europe. And the small nations should be leading, where were they?

        Oh, the irony of apparently the only MEPs defending Catalonia being those from UKIP. Strange bedfellows indeed!

  • Ben

    Really? You can delete comments without conscience as you cobble support for your predicament?

    Pride in disclosing your home address seems sagacious by comparison.

    • Matt

      Of course he can delete comments. It’s his blog.

      If I came round your house and took a shit on the floor, do I have a right to be annoyed when you clean it up?

      • Phil the ex-frog

        But Ben isn’t inviting people into his house to shit, nor benefiting from having people shit in his house. Ben doesn’t claim his house is a free shitting space.

        • Matt

          Craig doesn’t claim his blog is a free shitting space either. It’s hardly the first time he’s deleted comments.

          Ben has the right to post what he likes. I’m not arguing against that. I’m simply defending Craig’s right to delete what he likes, to clean up the shit off his floor.

          • Phil the ex-frog

            “Craig doesn’t claim his blog is a free shitting space either. ”

            He sort of does. Craig claims to be a free speech advocate and often harps on about how accommodating to opinion he is. Of course the deletions are rationalised. It’s a private space so free speech doesn’t count! Nazis really are evil!

  • Vinatea

    Puigdemont today damaged beyond repair any attempt for Scottish independence for the foreseeable future. No one is going to follow on the footsteps of ridicule that Puigdemont inflicted on catalan people today.

  • Josep

    In Cataluña people is now very confused and sad. The people who supported “Unionism” don’t understand what is going on and what does it mean The suspension of the Declaration of Independence. On the other side the citizens who were pushing for indepence are very sad, specially the CUP voters. In fact we know now that they could stop their parliamentary activity because what did Puigdemont tonight is the opposite of what he had promised them. The idea until two days ago was to declare independence now and with no conditions.
    A former member of Mr. Puigdemont party told 20 minutes ago that Puigdemont was pushed to change his declaration because some of his deputies in the Catalonian parlament threatened to resign.
    We could go to elections very soon, and unless Mr. Rajoy does something stupid like he did October the 1st, Puigdemont is in a very bad position.

    • Sm Sung

      Craig would have you believe it was a masterpiece of realpolitik. It was obviously a complete shambles.

      • K.A.Mylchreest

        Sm Sung : It’s a bit like a lady saying she’s just a little bit pregnant. I would add a smilie were it not all so serious.

  • graph

    So the phone call between Adams and Puigdemont was a fruitful one.

    Not that British folk will ever educate themselves about such matters but for all the death and destruction attributed to Adams, he had very little sway with what went on in the IRA. He had no clout with the ‘foot soldiers’. McGuinness held that responsibility. They all followed his word.

    Adams is a political tactician and strategist. Politics is his battle ground. Made a peace deal with Westminster after some horrific state sponsored terrorism toward his community. Advised Farc who recently ended their conflict and went the political route. Advised Hamas who have shown great restraint not responding to extreme provocation while making great strides on the political front (UN, ICC and Interpol recognition, soon to reconcile with the West bank administration) Advised Eta too I believe who have also stepped away from the gun in recent times.

    I suppose when your whole life is exposed to the horrors of needless conflict and how to emerge from it peacefully, you tend to be in a better position than most to advise on how to play the long game.

    I’m sure he gave Puigdemont a couple of good chess moves.

  • lysias

    According to Zero Hedge, Rajoy has declared Catalonia’s new position also violates Article 155. Doesn’t sound like he thinks Catalonia has backed down.

    • Vinatea

      That’s all folks! Unless Orwell repeats and different syndicates of catalinists start shooting each other on the streets. Which could happen with anarchists in the government. Then more ridicule for catalonia and more damage to any attempt at Scottish independence.

  • What's going on?

    Catalonia will not become independent. As the weeks and months role by the Catalans will slowly discover that becoming independent means losing all sorts of benefits they didn’t realise they had before. Brexit-Trump-Catalonian independence.

    You’ll say I’m mad, but when ‘Call me Dave’ comes back to save us, you’ll realise I was right all along.

    • craig Post author

      The Catalan Parliament has signed the Declaration of Independence, with a delay on implementation. So the idea that Independence is off the table is a nonsense. As expected, Rajoy is about to fall into the trap of responding with violence this morning.

      • Parth

        We need to wait and see if Rajoy does fall into that trap. Surely, he must realise that Puigdemont is now playing to a global audience. Yesterday’s events, including its late timing and especially the joint signing of a Declaration of Independence by members of the Catalan assembly (which brings to mind the painting of the American Declaration of Independence that hangs in the Capitol), appear to have been staged to gain international, and especially American, support. The spectacle of a group of elected representatives declaring an independent republic and then lining up to sign a joint declaration is bound to strike a chord with many (perhaps even a majority of) Americans.

        Personally, I think that, even if Rajoy is clumsy enough to want to respond violently, there must surely be others in his cabinet who will counsel him otherwise. The smartest thing Rajoy can do now is to agree to a ‘dialogue’, and then pretend to negotiate in good faith while not actually conceding anything in real terms.

      • Josep

        Well, that declaration was signed by some deputies of the Catalan Parliament, but the main problem is that the Referendum law that Mr. Puigdemont passed didn’t say that. The catalan law that Mr. Puigdemont passed said very clear that the Declaration of independence have to be signed By the Poll checking junta (which didn’t happen) . In other words, the Declaration of independence is a Wishful thinking document, that is why the members of CUP have threatened Mr. Puigdemont with not backing him anymore in the Parlament. However, you are right in a key point, this could still lead to Mr. Rajoy responding with violence, something that would give power again to the “pro independence” side.

        • Parth

          You are missing my point, which is that their staging of a Signing of a Declaration of Independence was designed to tug at the heartstrings of international observers, and especially of Americans. Since the major EU countries have made it clear that they will not recognise an independent Catalonia, Puigdemont is now making a pitch for recognition from the Anglo-Saxon countries, and especially from the United States.The phrasing of his speech appears to have been cleverly crafted for this purpose. Emphasising an ‘independent republic’, for example (in ‘The Alamo’ John Wayne, playing Davy Crockett, talks about how some words tug at a man’s heart, ‘Republic’ being one of those words). The joint signing of a Declaration of Independence (which will bring to mind Franklin’s quote about ‘hanging together or hanging separately’). He even gets the bonus of being able to denounce ‘the king’.

          The mythology of the War of Independence is very powerful among Americans, and Puigdemont is cleverly saying and doing things that will resonate with them. As Craig has argued above, he is waiting for Rajoy to respond with violence. Then he will be able to make more speeches about ‘tyranny’ and ‘oppression’. If this happens, public opinion in all the English-speaking countries will turn decisively in his favour, and our governments will eventually throw the weight of their support behind Catalonia.

          • Josep

            I highly doubt the United States back the Independence of Catalonia since 2 of the 3 parties that are pro indpependist are extremely lefty. Especially the CUP party which is an anticapitalist, anti globalist and clearly not pro American.
            You are right that they could try to seek for United States support but I don’t see any major Trump advisor recommending him to back the Catalonia pro independentist. Also that would mean facing the opposition of France, a country that will block any pro catalan independentist policy.

        • Parth

          Again, I think you are missing my point. This is not about whether or not the Trump Administration backs Catalonian independence at this point in time. It is about American public opinion, which is what I think Puigdemont is aiming at. If there is widespread sympathy for Catalonian independence among ordinary Americans, then the administration is bound to respond to this. Presumably, society does not necessarily function in this way in continental Europe, which is perhaps why you have a very different perspective on this matter. But if there is overwhelming support for Catalonia among ordinary Americans, then the administration is bound to take that into account, unlike the European Union countries, where political elites seem to do as they please and simply expect public opinion to fall into line.

          By the way, I doubt anyone in America would be particularly bothered about the French, who are generally regarded as ‘surrender monkeys’. Phrases like ‘Independent Republic’ and ‘Declaration of Independence’ can sway public opinion very strongly, and public opinion can influence policy decisively, not just in the United States, but also, I suspect, in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Puigdemont knows that the EU will support Rajoy and the Spanish state against an independent Catalonia, which is why he needs to get public opinion in the other half of the Western world (i.e. North America and Australasia) on his side.

          • pietra

            No one in the world at large gives, any longer (those that ever did), a flying fig what US Americans think or feel. Any cache of goodwill towards them has been progressively drained to empty, nought, nothing, for which US Americans have only themselves to blame.

      • Vinatea

        I can sign a paper claiming full ownership of Big Ben. The catalan parliament didn’t sign anything. A group of MPs signed a paper that wasn’t even discussed or approved in Parliament. And they didn’t even register that paper in the parliament register. A total charade that only fools, friends and family might choose to believe.

        Wake up Craig. Puigdemont yesterday damaged beyond repair any attempt for Scottish independence for the foreseeable future. No one is going to follow on the footsteps of ridicule that Puigdemont inflicted on catalan people today.

  • DiggerUK

    The Catalonians have made a brilliant tactical manoeuvre, and reached high ground. But have nothing in reserve with which to negotiate. They now have no exit strategy, and nothing with which to force a breach and advance.
    If the central government wise up, all they have to do is nothing at all. Then everything is in the
    long grass, and this all ends up as yesterdays news…_

  • Hieroglyph

    Rajoy looks like a guy following orders. Most of the EU PM’s do, with the notable exception of Merkel. Put it this way, Rajoy knows there will be consequences if he allows a binding referendum, perhaps personal ones.

    This will get violent, sadly. I expect Rajoy to get his way, or rather his handlers’, way. A bit of summary Francoism, shoot a few proles, arrest a few oppo’ leaders, the usual routine. And his every action will be proclaimed ‘the rule of law’ (a desperately stupid phrase if ever I heard one) by every EU chump you can imagine. But at some point, the EU will just collapse, under the weight of its’ own contradictions – just like the Soviet Union. Odd that.

    • giyane

      Are you referring to:
      ” And this was scarcely odd, because They’d eaten every one ”
      We can laugh at the bonkers logic captured here of the British Empire which also collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions. But Craig believes in the EU, so he has to find some way of making the sacred cow deliver justice and reason. The fact that it won’t and it can’t doesn’t mean that its devotees won’t try to generate a miracle out of what is basically a US-made, one-armed bandit gambling machine bolted onto a machine gun

  • James Chater

    Craig, just a few thoughts and a question. I don’t agree that the Spanish government is Francoist, but I agree they have mishandled the situation, and the police violence makes it more not less likely that Catalonia will secede. (And yes, there are ugly echoes of the 1930s – very stupid.) I don’t think this independence is necessarily a good idea. Do we really need more borders? Will any Catalonian be better clothed,. better housed or less indebted if C goes independent?

    Another observation: The EU has been caught on the hop with this one. There is no clearly established code of conduct or procedure provided for in EU legislation if a region wants to declare its independence. I think it should be made difficult in the sense that they should insist on a super majority (let’s say 60%) of ALL VOTERS (not just those who bother to vote) , and voting should be compulsory. Perhaps also they should insist on 2 referendums, over a 5-year period. In another sense it should be made easier: there should be some way of guaranteeing that a region that has gone through the procedure should be allowed to stay in the EU and the euro zone if they want. In other words, the threat of exclusion from the EU should not be used as a weapon.

    But, but but: rich regions that are tempted to break away so they keep more of their tax receipts should be discouraged. After independence they should be made to continue to make transfers to their former mother state for a number of years after independence. The financial implications of Catalan independence are ugly for both Spain and Catalonia. Catalonia owes Spain a lot of money. Plus, duplicating all the government functions (embassies, army and navy, customs etc.) is clearly inefficient for such a small economic unit.

    There is a lot for the EU to think about there.

    A question: has Puigdemont actually broken any law? I think not, and this is the weakness of Spain’s position. P. sounded out the opinion of the Catalonians, as he surely has every right to do. Whether the referendum has legal validity is another question, but they can’t arrest him for holding a non-binding referendum, even if P thinks it is or should be binding.

    • Laguerre

      “The EU has been caught on the hop with this one. There is no clearly established code of conduct or procedure provided for in EU legislation if a region wants to declare its independence.”

      Has it? Strictly speaking, Catalonian independence remains an internal Spanish matter, and not the affair of the EU. The EU probably should have a specific policy in the future, but they do have a position, as it stands.

    • El Capitan Trueno

      I used to think the PP was not francoist anymore. But the last 8 years have proved me wrong

  • Sharp Ears

    Well at least the ‘news’ presenters are managing to pronounce Puigdemont’s name correctly.

  • Scott

    I liked the Twitter posting by the Spain report, describing the situation as “Schrödinger’s independence.”

  • fred

    Puigdemont has got himself into a similar situation to Nicola Sturgeon, gaining power by making promises they can’t keep to fanatical flag-waving nut jobs. Both are attempting to keep two distinct realities in play at the same time trying to convince both sides that the version of reality they want to be true is the real one.

    • JOML

      Well balanced post, as usual, Fred. Tell me, do you have to wave a flag to be a “nut job” or can you be a “nut job” without a flag?

        • JOML

          Shame Cyril Smith was never convicted, Fred, but perhaps that’s because his party stood by him, unlike the eejit you referenced as he was suspended by his colleagues.

          • JOML

            You introduced Clerkin to the thread, Fred – I’d not heard of him before and had to use Google. He’s certainly an unsavoury and misguided character. However, my question related to whether your term “nut job” required someone to fly a flag or not. If you are using the term to describe all of the Yes movement, then you, yourself, have become a misguided and unsavoury character, as it is quite offensive to call someone a “nut job” merely for exercising their democratic right.

          • fred

            “You introduced Clerkin to the thread, Fred”

            Yes, he’s one of the flag-waving nut jobs that thinks Nicola has promised him another referendum.

            Don’t know why you started talking about Cyril Smith.

    • Republicofscotland

      Scottish independence in your opinion is divisive, and ran by flag waving nasty nationalists.

      However Brexit is hailed as a great a British nationalist movement, taking our country back, said the politicians and the media.

      Theresa May is a remainer, and is half heartedly attempting to broker a deal for the UK. It’s a utter mess created by Westminster, and will end badly for the UK.

      Scotland must become independent or face the consequences of remaining chained to the den of iniquity aka Westminster.

      Tell me Fred, hiding out in Scotland, will you join the not for profit electricty company that’s to be set up post 2021 by the SNP government, or do you loathe them that much you’d rather pay more for your energy.

      I think you would join it in a jiffy.

      Incidently Fred, one of the Catalan governments recent laws, was to stop power companys cutting of the poor and infirm.

      • fred

        “However Brexit is hailed as a great a British nationalist movement, taking our country back, said the politicians and the media.”

        I’m the one who opposed Brexit and voted against it. You are the one who before the referendum was arguing for.

        I have the links if you want me to post them.

  • freddy

    Macron can do NOTHING! Catalan MEP blasts French threat to punish an independent Catalonia

    Macron can do a lot to thwart Catalonia, an awful lot
    and he will.

    • freddy

      If Catalonia becomes an independent country, against the wishes of both Spain and France, how will they get on without any access to finance, how will they get on when the borders are shut,
      it will be a proper Kettle situation.

        • freddy

          to ring-fence.

          If Spain does not want Catalonia to be independent ( they don’t) Spain can SHUT the borders and keep the people/trade in kettle mode.

          If France does not want Catalonia to be independent ( they don’t) France can SHUT the borders and keep the people/trade
          in kettle mode

          • Republicofscotland


            Tell me this why would Spain damage its own economy just to damage that of Catalonia’s. It doesn’t make good economic sense.

            The government runs the country, however commerce is its beating heart.

          • freddy

            Spain has claimed it is indivisible.
            If Spain is divided, it is, therefore, no longer Spain.
            Expect war, as in Syria.

      • Sharp Ears


        Try Kensington High Street by the Met when there was a protest against yet another war by Israel against the Palestinians.

        Many of the protesters ended up in jail and with a criminal record after they appeared before magistrates in Isleworth, accused of ‘rioting’.

        Gaza Defendants Hammered
        The state has begun handing down vicious sentences to men accused of participation in the rioting in London that occurred during a protest against the Israeli attacks on Gaza (see SchNEWS 661-662). Ten young men have been jailed for their role in protests demanding an end to Israel’s invasion of Gaza early last year – and more are to follow in the coming weeks.

  • Christopher Rogers

    Its a funny old world, the Euro fanatics in Brussels desire a Federal EU State, which, seems a fantasy given the only Federal State I’m aware of that’s been a success with different cultures and languages has been Switzerland – of course other mixed Federations exist, such as Belgium, but the fact remains the most successful Federations have had at most two distinct groups (see Canada) or a single point of reference, such as the United States or Australia.

    Indeed, its seems the EU or Euro Elites don’t much like existing EU nation states Federating, which both the UK & Spain could do quite easily, instead, they prefer the present status quo, which as CM indicates clearly is usually in a state of flux, for example, think Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia or even the USSR.

    Anyhow, if the EU goal is a full Federal State, then its pure hypocrisy to prevent member Nation States Federating, which, whilst not offering full independence, at least offers a compromise solution that is so often necessary in all politics. That the EU Elite seem opposed to this kind of settlement is most disturbing, as this is the settlement I’d like for the UK as far as the Celtic Fringe is concerned & other areas of the UK outside of the M25 that suffer greatly at the expense of London & the South east.

    • Martinned

      its seems the EU or Euro Elites don’t much like existing EU nation states Federating

      In my experience, Eurocrats typically think about the world in terms of subsidiarity. For larger Member States, that fits best with a Germany-style constitution.

      which both the UK & Spain could do quite easily

      Spain yes. (Well, with two 2/3 votes in Parliament and a referendum, as required by s. 168 of the Constitution.)
      But in the UK proper federalism is a paradox given the doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty. No Parliament can bind a later Parliament, so Parliament cannot truly give away any powers. Technically, the current Parliament could repeal the Canada Act and make Canada a dominion again, as far as UK law is concerned. Of course, Canada wouldn’t have to care, but it does show how awkward solutions short of Scottish independence are, as a matter of UK constitutional law.

  • reel guid

    Puidgemont knows that if the Catalan government adheres to a strategy of negotiation and being reasonable then the Madrid government’s strongarm approach will become untenable. The EU might have backed Rajoy immediately after polling day in the hope that Catalonia would back down and the citizens of the EU and the rest of Europe would be distracted. The EU’s various institutions surely realise that they cannot continuously approve the suspension of democracy. The EU’s credibility and prestige would be gone.

    Puidgemont holds the better cards and has the temperament and intelligence to match. Rajoy now has to concede a good deal or else look very isolated.

    • Parth

      Actually, he does not have to concede anything. All Rajoy has to do is agree to a ‘dialogue’. Then he can just drag this on and on until everybody loses interest, taking care to continue to look as though he wants to talk about the issue without making any real concessions.

      • reel guid

        Yes that’s probably true. But the Catalans have the UDI option. They’ll only use it if they have to. Which means only after lengthy negotiations which delivered nothing. If Madrid negotiates for a long time and concedes little then it would be difficult for them to resume the strongarm tactics without looking totally unreasonable. Even to Europeans who are sympathetic to the Spanish nationalists.

        • Parth

          Safe play for Rajoy now, in my humble opinion, would just be to ‘negotiate’ Israeli-style. Insist that the Spanish Constitution MUST be respected. Perhaps even give some ground by conceding that there is some need to discuss constitutional reform, because that can then be used to prolong the process even further, since all stakeholders will have to be involved in it. In the meantime, continue to undermine Puigdemont’s position and hope for his party to lose power in the next round of elections. With luck, everyone will become heartily sick of the entire matter and he can hand the mess over to his successor and move on to become a European Commissioner for something or the other.

    • Republicofscotland

      reel guid.

      I think Puigdemont needs to use this down time to try and garner support from somewhere within the EU, or any other nation that will listen.

      I say that, because Puigdemont has held back from openly declaring independence, even though he did sign the declaration of independence, a smart move as they could’ve all been arrested for sedition under Spanish law.

      However it’s just a matter of time before Rajoy grows weary of it all and suspends Catalonia’s autonomy, and with it any chance of independence, and without friends in the EU, or elsewhere, it will be very difficult for Puigdemont.

  • Josep

    Rajoy just gave his answer to Puigdemont 5 minutes ago.

    He basically did the right thing and didn’t apply the 155 article. He gained time, and just said that he wants good resolution of the problem for all sides and asked Mr. Puigdemont if yesterday he declared or not the independence of Catalonia.
    So, basically Rajoy is doing nothing and gaining time.

1 2 3

Comments are closed.