Suspension of Catalan Home Rule Divides Spain’s Socialists

Party members in the region criticize the national leadership for supporting Mariano Rajoy.

Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez answers questions from reporters in Brussels, October 18
Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez answers questions from reporters in Brussels, October 18 (PSOE)

The Spanish Socialist Party’s support for the suspension of Catalan home rule has triggered defections from prominent party members in the region, including the mayors of Castellar del Vallès, Granollers and Terrassa as well as the party secretary in Manresa.

Àngel Ros, the mayor of Lleida, said that when he heard Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announce the abrogation of self-government on Saturday, “I thought of all it cost us to fight Francoism and gain freedom and democracy.”

Slow down

Miquel Iceta, the leader of the Catalan branch of the party, has called on Pedro Sánchez to slow the implementation of Article 155 of the Constitution, which enables the central government to take over a regional administration.

The Senate, where Rajoy’s People’s Party has an absolute majority, must give its consent before the prime minister can sack Catalonia’s separatist leaders.

Sánchez previously convinced Rajoy to look into the possibility of constitutional reform in order to put an end to the independence crisis, but he is so far standing by his onetime rival, arguing, “Nobody has done more harm to Catalan self-government than the separatists.”

Competition

Other left-wing parties in Catalonia, Barcelona mayor Ada Colau’s Catalonia in Common in particular, have come at the Socialists hard for endorsing Rajoy’s policy. They sense an opportunity to decimate the party, which still placed third in the most recent regional election.