When Rajoy’s Government outlawed the Catalan independence process last month by invoking Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution— thereby endorsing the sentence of the Supreme Court — the Catalonian crisis appeared to be an issue the Spanish government could have contained with moderation. However, due to the deepening political crisis and escalation of social tensions in the last few weeks, bringing the Catalan issue to a rapid end seems to represent an increasingly difficult and fragile task to handle, especially after former President of the Generalitat Carles Puidgemont flew to Brussels to escape national arrest— (very) shocking I’d say.
In a swift manner, Catalonia has gained and lost the independence whereas Madrid has shown to what extent its Constitution safeguards statehood (if needed). However, this skirmish has no winner and no loser since, one way or another, Puidgemont’s flight to Brussels has been seizing not only a regional authority, but also a supranational one: the European Union. In fact, down to what Spanish media reported, he sought to lobby with Regionalist parties in Belgium: a country to be thought as the core of the federalist governance, by hook or by crook to be thought as Puidgemont’s dream and Rajoy’s nightmare.
On one side, Puidgemont sought for a European-wide support on the Catalan quest for further autonomy, which since then has been turning into a schizophrenic, runaway will of separation from the Spanish state. On the other side, this Crisis became a nightmare for Rajoy: the cruel repression testified by the Spanish Police reminds many of the daunting Francoist past. In a recent declaration to the parliament, the embattled Prime Minister admitted a mistake over the handling of the scandal, namely regarding the harsh measures adopted by law enforcement organisms. Public order must be guaranteed by the centre of power (in this case Madrid) but when the means for it becomes repression, it becomes a double-edged sword. The massive ‘hit and run’ in the streets of Barcelona tarnished Spain’s public image and in many ways it has rendered the government less effective in restoring the status quo. The moral of the story is that Regionalism (still) can jeopardise Statehood and, therefore, all those European states where such a risk persists, should be impelled to create adequate mechanisms of governance to prevent such potentially destabilizing situations.
A cura di Manfredi Morello