Catalonia independence declaration: what happens now?
Email Catalonia independence declaration: what happens now?
Updated October 11, 2017 12:59:18Photo: It's unclear how the coming weeks will unfold after Catalonia's independence vote. Related Story: Catalonia puts independence on hold ahead of talks with Spain Related Story: Spain is in crisis but there's one way forward Related Story: How did Catalonia's referendum come to violence? Map: Spain
Catalonia's leaders have signed a declaration of independence from Spain.
But, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has suspended the secession to allow talks with the Spanish Government.
Here's a quick look at what could happen next.
How did we get here?
The Parliament of Catalonia voted for a referendum of independence, which the Spanish Constitutional Court declared illegal.
However, on October 1 the north-eastern province held a vote, which resulted in violent brawls with police who were trying to implement a ban on the vote.
Catalan leaders say it resulted in a Yes vote for independence, saying more than 90 per cent of people voted in favour.
It's been reported that anti-independence voters largely boycotted the vote, which had a 43 per cent turn out.
What do Catalonia's leaders say?
They've signed a declaration which calls on all states and international organisations to recognise Catalo nia as an independent and sovereign state.
"Catalonia restores today its full sovereignty," it reads.
"We call on all states and international organisations to recognize the Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state.
"We call on the Catalan government to take all necessary measures to make possible and fully effective this declaration of independence and the measures contained in the transition law that founds the republic."
However, regional president CarlesPuigdemont said he wanted a negotiated solution with Madrid.
"I assume the mandate that Catalonia should become an independent state in the form of a republic," Mr Puigdemont told the regional parliament in Barcelona.
"I propose suspending the effects of the declaration of independence to undertake talks to reach an agreed solution."
If Mr Puigdemont asked the regional parliament in Barcelona for support, it would have closed the door on negotiations.
So his move disappointed supporters of the independence vote, some of them watching the speech on large screens outside the 18th-century parliament building.Photo: People react as they watch a session of the Catalonian regional parliament on a giant screen at a pro-independence rally. (Reuters: Gonzalo Fuentes)
What does the Spanish Government say?
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called an urgent cabinet meeting for Wednesday morning (Wednesday afternoon AEDT) to address the issue.
Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said that "neith er Mr Puigdemont nor anybody else can claim ... to impose mediation".
"Any dialogue between democrats has to take place within the law," she said.
So what could happen next?
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy could take the unprecedented step of dissolving the Catalan Parliament and triggering new regional elections, the so-called "nuclear option".
Madrid could also ask the courts to strike down a declaration of independence as unconstitutional.
Despite renewed calls for dialogue with Madrid, the proclamation makes a negotiated solution more difficult as Mr Rajoy has said he would not talk to the Catalan leaders until they drop plans for independence.
Last week Carlos Uxo, a Spanish studies expert at Monash University, said there were a couple of outcomes:
- The President of Catalonia would probably be arrested
- The Spanish Government would seize control of the region
He said the second of these would represent Spain's, "biggest crisis since the 1981 coup d'etat" .
"In fact, only once since democracy has the King given a speech like [the one he gave this week], and it was during the 1981 events," he said.
That coup attempt involved rebel soldiers holding Spain's Parliament hostage for a day. King Juan Carlos I denounced the coup in a televised address, calling for the restoration of democracy.
What about the Spanish constitution?
Article 155 of the constitution states:
"If an autonomous community does not fulfil the obligations imposed upon it by the constitution or other laws, or acts in a way seriously prejudicing the general interests of Spain, the Government, after lodging a complaint with the president of the autonomous community and failing to receive satisfaction therefore, may, following approval granted by an absolute majority of the S enate, take the measures necessary in order to compel the latter forcibly to meet said obligations, or in order to protect the above-mentioned general interests."
So, how would implementing the constitution work?
The Spanish Government would first warn the Catalan Government to put a stop to the move towards independence.
Then, if this warning wasn't heeded, the Spanish Government can seize control of the region.
But it's important to note that this power has never been used and is seen as last resort.
Dr Uxo thinks there are two reasons why the Spanish Government hasn't invoked this constitutional power before.
Firstly, he thinks the Spanish Government believed the Catalan independence problem would go away.
"That obviously hasn't happened," he said.
Secondly, Dr Uxo believes this would be a PR disaster for Spain, and would only embolden the independence movement which was already strengthened by the crackdown on the October 1 referendum.
Dr Uxo says civil unrest is much more likely than civil war, primarily because Catalonia doesn't have an army or trained personnel, but also because civil unrest would be seen as a better path towards gaining international recognition for independence.
Topics: world-politics, referendums, spain
First posted October 11, 2017 12:42:42Source: Google News