On the edge of the abyss

A unilateral declaration of independence would open the door to a dire crisis in Catalonia

Oblivious to the signals coming in from all fronts – political, social, economic, international – indicating that secessionists should not go ahead with their plans for a unilateral declaration of independence for Catalonia, regional premier Carles Puigdemont and the more radical aides around him – his deputy Oriol Junqueras, the far-left CUP party and the pro-independence civic groups Òmnium Cultural and ANC – are still considering going ahead with their suicidal plans.

It is important to tell secessionists, loud and clear, what the consequences of a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) would be; not just so they cannot claim that they didn’t know, once these consequences become a reality, but also so that citizens and the entire world will be witness to the complete irresponsibility of those who hurl themselves into the abyss in full awareness of the fact.

Secessionism is in the hands of messianic, immoral leaders who are ready to sacrifice Catalonia and themselves to their project

In the first place, such a declaration would lead to a head-on collision with the Spanish state that the latter would not be in a position to dodge. If, as King Felipe VI has noted, secessionists have already questioned Spain’s constitutional order, a UDI would inevitably trigger the use of the entire arsenal of measures contemplated by the Spanish Constitution and the Criminal Code to deal with such a clear and evident challenge. And that initial response would only be a first taste of more forceful decisions that would represent an enormous leap backwards in the level of self-government that Catalonia has already achieved, so that what took decades to build could be lost in a matter of hours.

In second place, these consequences would be dire, and unfortunately irreversible, in terms of the social fracture. After Sunday’s march in Barcelona evidenced the fact that, contrary to what the pro-independence camp claims, there is no such thing as a single Catalan people unanimously united behind its cause, but rather a society where the majority desires peaceful coexistence within the bounds of the Constitution, a UDI would definitively break Catalan society in two and open the door to passions and feelings that would be very difficult to control or channel.

The business community is not going to stick around and see how things pan out

In third place, the damage to the economy would be exponentially greater: many emblematic businesses are already leaving the region, and a UDI would create a generalized lack of legal security for companies, investors, savers and all kinds of economic agents. Let nobody kid themselves: what’s hiding behind the UDI is complete political, social and economic bankruptcy.

Secessionists may be tempted to think that their international image will benefit from a high-tension scenario such as that which would follow a UDI. But it has been abundantly evidenced that Spain’s European partners – out of solidarity with Spain but also in their own self-interest – will support  Spanish democracy and the Constitution in the face of such a threat, and that meanwhile, the business community is not going to stick around and see how things pan out.

There is no such thing as a single Catalan people unanimously united behind the secessionist cause

Nothing and nobody is waiting for the secessionists on the other side of the UDI: only economic chaos and political isolation. That is why, contrary to those who defend that a UDI would make secessionism stronger, there is evidence to indicate that a UDI would mark its final act as a political project.

The fact that there are people who, knowing full well the kind of damage that a UDI would mean to people, assets and institutions, are still weighing whether to go down that road, shows to what extent secessionism is currently in the hands of messianic, immoral leaders who are ready to sacrifice Catalonia and themselves to their project before certifying its failure and ruin.

Regional premier Carles Puigdemont, his government and the organizations that back him have reached the edge of the abyss. They must not jump, or drag anyone else down with them. That is why we urge all political forces, including those that have come out in favor of dialogue, to impel the former not to make that decision. Let these actors use their appeal to dialogue, and mediate to get secessionists to stop their plan and return to a legal framework where talks can begin.

For everyone’s sake, but particularly for the sake of the Catalonia that they declare themselves loyal to. Puigdemont is still in time to avoid calamity and open up a path of dialogue and negotiation in which Catalonia will not lose in a big way, as it is set to do now, but instead carve out a better future for itself within the bounds of the law.

And if such a declaration of independence does take place, as secessionists have threatened to do at today’s session in the regional parliament, then we call on political forces to heed King Felipe VI’s words and side unreservedly with the restoration of constitutional order.

English version by Susana Urra.

More information