In another bizarre day that shows the all-time low to which the pro-independence movement in Catalonia has sunk, regional premier Carles Puigdemont on Thursday subjected citizens to yet another exercise in political acrobatics.
The media were convened at three different times during Thursday, with contradictory messages circulating beforehand about the content of the announcements that were to be conveyed to the public. In the end, Puigdemont chose to, once again, inundate us with empty rhetoric, half-truths and blatant falsehoods. But, above all else, he was again seeking to buy time and pass off the responsibility for the situation to another institution: the regional parliament.
Dialogue – as far as the premier understands it – can only revolve around how to force Madrid to accept independence
It is completely false to say, as Puigdemont did, that all routes of dialogue have been exhausted: his failure to appear in the Senate in Madrid – something that should have taken place at the exact same time he was making his speech in Barcelona – is the most recent example of how dialogue – as far as the premier understands it – can only revolve around how to force the Spanish state to accept the independence of Catalonia, by fair means or foul.
Puigdemont is also disregarding the truth when he characterizes Article 155 of the Constitution as an illegal and authoritarian attack that aims to end the region’s self-government: once more, the Catalan premier is ignoring the fact that it is his challenge to the Constitution, the regional Statute and the rulings of the Constitutional Court that are motivating the government to resort to an article that all democratic constitutions include – one that is designed precisely to deal with cases such as the one we are living through in Catalonia.
Nor can his long-standing appeal to the citizenship of the independence movement be ignored. Breaking laws, straining democratic rules, destroying coexistence and, above all else, attempting to illegally deprive millions of Catalans of their citizenship and rights, and of their legitimate political representatives, is far from constituting civic and exemplary behavior.
Puigdemont is also disregarding the truth when he characterizes Article 155 of the Constitution as an illegal and authoritarian attack
The accumulation of absurdities that lie behind a gloomy and threatening discourse do not end there. The calling of regional elections is, without a doubt, a prerogative of the premier. And of course, these have to be arranged within the law, and as is natural, within the order of the Constitution. Not, as Puigdemont is attempting, as just another element within his strategy of constant blackmail of the state.
The chaos and confusion that have been generated by Puigdemont point to, ultimately, the existing division within his own ranks. The pro-independence movement – which is made up of a strange amalgam of anti-establishment and grass-roots movements, and traditional political parties such as Convergència (now known as PDeCAT) and the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) – has manifestly failed: it has deeply divided society, it has prompted companies to flee from the region, it has failed to secure any kind of international support, and, to top it off, it is on the verge of prompting the invocation of Article 155 with the consensus of the three major parliamentary forces: the governing Popular Party (PP), the main opposition Socialist Party (PSOE), and center-right group Ciudadanos.
Puigdemont is confused when he questions the PP and points to the party as being responsible for the situation we are currently living through. It is the state and its institutions, making full use of their constitutional faculties and in representation of the people and their rights, which is prepared, today more than ever, to take action to reestablish the constitutional order in the face of the chaos that has been created by the pro-independence movement.
English version by Simon Hunter.