Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition

by Adrià Salvador and Jon Roozenbeek

In the final article of our series on Catalonia, Adrià Salvador and Jon Roozenbeek respond to Jose Piquer in light of the increasingly repressive crackdown on pro-independence Catalans, and the absence of condmenation by European institutions. This series has been commissioned by the Forum on Geopolitics at the University of Cambridge.

After a string of nerve-wracking events surrounding the Catalan independence referendum and ensuing declaration of independence by the Catalan regional parliament in October, the political hurricane seems to be slowly settling in Spain. Most of the Catalan government is either in exile or in prison, its acting government is under Madrid’s control, and candidate after candidate proposed by the Catalan parliament is declared unfit to be inaugurated as president by Spanish courts.

Now, it seems, is the right time for dialogue and rapprochement. In a recent article on In the Long Run, 'Democracy beyond the streets and courts: The need for a Spanish–Catalan compromise’, Jose Piquer argues for ‘a new democratic vision where Spaniards and Catalans live imperfectly together rather than forever apart’. Piquer reminds pro-Unionists that pro-independence sentiments in Catalonia are not necessarily just or justifiable, but they are a force to be reckoned with: ‘There are simply not enough Catalans who believe they should secede from Spain because they are oppressed, but the Catalans who are willing to leave Spain in the absence of a new relationship are too numerous to be ignored’. But present-day Spain, Piquer reminds independentists, ‘is not Francoland’. Its Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, whether you agree with his policies or not, is not a fascist, and Spain remains a democratic member of the European Union.

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Democracy beyond the streets and courts: The need for a Spanish–Catalan compromise

by Jose Piquer

In the second article in our series on Catalonia, Jose Piquer argues that the time has come for a new democratic vision where Spaniards and Catalans live imperfectly together rather than forever apart. This series has been commissioned by the Forum on Geopolitics at the University of Cambridge.

It has now been more than five years since the Catalan crisis mutated into a sort of existential crisis for Spain. During this time, clamour in the streets of Barcelona for Catalonia’s independence has been met with a lack of political imagination in Madrid. While pro-independence leaders have failed to recognise the power of the rule of law when it is applied to its full extent, the Spanish government has failed to offer any meaningful solution beyond the law. Five years of confronting the streets with the courts has ended in a stalemate. Appeals to the EU will not break it. Can Spaniards and Catalans finally opt for living imperfectly together, rather than forever apart?

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Damaged Democracy: The urgent need to address growing resentment in Catalonia

by Montserrat Guibernau

In the first of a series of articles on recent political developments in Catalonia, Montserrat Guibernau looks at the growing divisions among Catalan citizens and their implications not only for Catalonia and Spain, but also the EU. This series has been commissioned by the Forum on Geopolitics at the University of Cambridge.

Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, insists that to accept Mr Carles Puigdemont’s legitimacy as President of the Generalitat of Catalonia while he remains in Belgium – where he is granted immunity according to Belgian law – is ‘illegal’ and that if the current situation continues, Catalan autonomy will remain suspended under the auspices of Article 155 of the Spanish constitution.

The attention Catalonia has recently attracted is mainly due to the unprecedented social and political non-violent mobilisation of grassroots citizens unhappy with the status quo, demanding not only self-determination and the right to decide their political future but more recently, due to the unresponsiveness of the Spanish government, full independence.

As expected, Catalonia could not accept the direct rule approved by the Spanish Senate in October 2017, a move conferring full power to the Spanish Prime Minister to trigger Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution and rule Catalonia directly. Notably, pro-independence parties secured a renewed majority in the Catalan parliament on 21 December 2017, although the pro-union centre-right Ciudadanos party won the election. The result was a blow to Rajoy who had hopes of defusing the constitutional crisis in Catalonia – a long shot when his Popular Party is under pressure regarding significant allegations of corruption.

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