Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will consider taking the dramatic measure of suspending Catalonia’s autonomous status, as the region’s leaders escalate threats to declare independence from the country.
“We are going to stop independence from happening. On that, I can tell you with absolute frankness, that it will not happen. It is evident that we will take whatever decision that we are permitted to by law, in view of how things are unfolding,” Rajoy told the El Pais newspaper in an interview.
Asked if this would include using Article 155 of the Constitution, the legal mechanism needed to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy, Rajoy said: “I am not absolutely ruling out anything that the law allows. I would like to do it at the right time … that it is more important at the moment.
“The ideal scenario would be that there were no need for drastic solutions, but for that there would need to be rectifications.”
A week of protests have nonetheless shown a bitter division.
Massive crowds have taken to the streets to rally for independence since the vote a week ago. But there have also been large crowds against separation, including in Madrid, as well as protests calling for dialogue.
In a sea of red-and-yellow Spanish and Catalan flags, protesters sent a clear message, shouting: “Catalonia is Spain.”
Huge Spain Unity Rally in Barcelona
At least 350,000 people gathered in Barcelona, capital of Catalonia, for a rally against independence from Spain.
They waved Spanish and Catalan flags and carried banners saying “Together we are stronger” and “Catalonia is Spain”.
It was the largest such rally in Catalonia amid speculation that Catalan leaders will declare independence from Spain next week.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister who lost a referendum on independence from the UK in 2014, said on Sunday that the only way to resolve the crisis was with “both sides coming together to try to find a way forward… that respects the rule of law, democracy and the right to choose”.
Crystal Ball Territory
We are in crystal ball territory, but the options are pretty much binary.
If the Catalan government wants to hold talks, Rajoy is likely to demand they renounce independence, something the Catalan leaders are unlikely to do.
So far, Rajoy has refused talks with any political parties that favor discussion over force.
If the Catalan government declares independence, Rajoy will declare article 155.
Assuming the latter, Spain will have to send in more troops, arrest all of the Catalan leaders, and put in a puppet government that supports Madrid until new elections are held.
Predictions after that get dicey other than the EU will sit idle, ignoring events in Spain as an internal issue.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock