Puigemont’s Bid for Relevance Divides Catalan Independence Parties
Deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont’s bid for continued political relevance is dividing the two largest independence parties in the region.
The Republican Left is refusing to join Puigdemont’s latest political vehicle, the National Call for the Republic, which is meant to succeed the electoral list he led into last year’s regional election, Together for Catalonia.
The Republican Left also argues that both parties must respect a Supreme Court ruling and suspend from parliament those six lawmakers who are awaiting trial for their role in last year’s independence referendum. Together for Catalonia argues that Puigdemont doesn’t have to give up his seat, because — unlike the leader of the Republican Left, Oriol Junqueras — he is still a free man. Read more
Catalan and Spanish Leaders Take Steps to Normalize Relations
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez and Catalan president Quim Torra have met for the first time.
The fact that a simple meeting is considered a step forward says something about how poorly Sánchez’ conservative predecessor, Mariano Rajoy, managed relations between the Spanish state and its richest — and rebellious — region.
Beyond the symbolism of the meeting, the two leaders made substantive progress. Read more
There is hope here in Catalonia that the new Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, will be more conciliatory than the last. But he mustn’t make the same mistake as his predecessor, I argue in an op-ed for the Netherlands’ NRC newspaper. Read more
Spain Lifts Catalan Spending Controls, Hints at Constitutional Reform
Spain has lifted controls on Catalonia’s public finances and called for constitutional reforms to dissuade the region from breaking away.
The goodwill measures of the new Socialist government are an about-face from the clampdown under conservative prime minister Mariano Rajoy, who was ousted in a confidence vote last week.
Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez, the new prime minister, backed Rajoy when he suspended Catalonia’s autonomy in the wake of the October 1 independence referendum. But he also argued for talks to convince a majority of Catalans to stay in Spain. Rajoy refused to so much as sit down with the region’s separatists. Read more
Spain Rejects Catalan Cabinet Picks, Maintains Direct Rule
Spain has rejected four of the ministers nominated by the newly inaugurated Catalan president, Quim Torra, postponing the restoration of autonomy in the region.
Spanish authorities have described the cabinet picks as a “provocation”. The reason is that two of them are in jail, awaiting trial for their role in the October 1 referendum, while the other two have fled to Belgium.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called for a “viable” Catalan government.
El País reports that Rajoy’s refusal to restore home rule has created the novel situation “in which Torra is the head of the Catalan government, yet each regional department will continue to answer to the national minister currently in charge of each area.” Read more