Catalonia and Spain Enter Dangerous Uncharted Territory

Emotions are running high on both sides of the divide.

Yesterday was one of the strangest days of my life. I woke up in a constitutional monarchy called Spain and went to bed many hours later in a newly proclaimed republic. Catalonia’s impossible dream finally came true, but it could be extremely short lived, and it could have very damaging long lasting consequences.

Spain’s Senate responded to the Catalan parliament’s declaration of independence this afternoon by ratifying the activation of Article 155 of Spain’s Constitution, the nuclear button everyone has been waiting for. This will allow the central government to take full rein of the region’s institutions and levers of power, including parliament, the police force, the exchequer (already done), public media, the Internet, the education system, and telecommunications — at least in theory.

There is no telling just yet how Mariano Rajoy’s government intends to stamp its authority on 2.5 million of the Catalans now in open rebellion, or for how long. Given the law’s ambiguity, there are few constraints on its application, but trying to subdue a region where most of the 7.5 million-strong population are hostile to the basic notion of direct rule from Madrid is going to be a tall order, especially if the EU, which refuses to recognize Catalonia, expects Rajoy’s government to bring Catalonia back into line through “the force of argument rather than the argument of force.”

Unfortunately, force of argument is not exactly Rajoy’s forte

“If you’re someone who reads Spanish and you want to know what’s happening in the world you read El Pais,” says Carlin, who spoke to CJR by phone from his home in London but declined to discuss the reasons for his dismissal. “But in Spain El Pais defines itself as defending the establishment. They have many wonderful writers, but the priority is que dirán?” Translation: What will Madrid elites say?

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