Who Is Catalonia’s New President and What Happens Next?
Quim Torra has been elected president of Catalonia with 66 to 65 votes in the regional legislature.
Torra was supported by his own party, Together for Catalonia, and its ally, the Republican Left. Both seek Catalan independence.
The smallest separatist party, the Popular Unity Candidacy, abstained to make it possible for Torra to take office, but it considered his predecessor, Carles Puigdemont, the only legitimate candidate.
Puigdemont, who led Together for Catalonia to victory in December’s election, was removed from power by Spain in the wake of the October 1 independence referendum that had been ruled illegal by the Constitutional Court. Read more
In my first contribution to World Politics Review, I write that a deal is slipping away in Catalonia as the region’s separatists remain deadlocked with the central government of Spain.
Both sides are waiting for the other to make the first move: Spain for the Catalans to form a pliable regional government; the separatists for Spain to drop charges against the leaders of their independence movement. Neither is likely to happen. And so six months after the referendum, and four months after regional elections in Catalonia, there is still no breakthrough.
The solution, I’ve argued before, is more self-government. Most Catalans don’t feel they have enough control over their own affairs. But most don’t really want to break away either. It’s only if they are forced to choose between the status quo and secession that the population splits down the middle.
Unfortunately, more autonomy is out of the question for the current Spanish government. Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, won’t even negotiate with the Catalans.
The longer this impasse lasts, I warn, the more the extremes will benefit.
The liberal Citizens, who take a harder line against the independence movement, are stealing voters from Rajoy. Radical separatists in Catalonia are growing at the expense of pragmatists. Rajoy may come to regret not talking with reasonable separatist leaders when he had the chance. Read more
Earlier this month, a nationalist coalition called Pè a Corsica (For Corsica) won control of the island’s regional assembly with 56.5 percent of the votes.
Pè a Corsica‘s success may certainly entail more bargaining power for the island vis-à-vis a staunchly centralist French government and it represents yet another European region seeking to forge its own path away from a dominant nation state.
But it is unlikely to lead to a Catalonia-style rebellion. Read more
In regional elections on Thursday, parties that want to break away from Spain got 47 percent support against 44 percent for those that oppose independence. (The balance going to a party that refuses to take sides.)
These figures are line with the latest government survey, which found almost 49 percent of Catalans in favor of independence and 44 percent opposed.
Clearly neither side has a convincing mandate and with turnout at 82 percent — the highest in living memory — it’s also clear that more voting, whether in the form of a referendum or another election, will not break the deadlock.
Spain’s conservative People’s Party is overreaching in its attempts to silence pro-independence voices in the Catalan media.
The party has reported a Catalan radio journalist, Mònica Terribas, to the Electoral Commission for the province of Barcelona for using the terms “imprisoned ministers” and “president-in-exile” in a broadcast.
The same commission earlier banned Catalan public television from using those phrases to refer to separatist leaders who have been taken into custody or fled to Belgium.
It also accepted a request from the People’s Party to stop the Barcelona city council from coloring buildings and fountains in yellow to indicate support for the restoration of home rule.
Xavier García Albiol, the Catalan People’s Party leader, has proposed to shut down the region’s public television station, TV3, and relaunch it with “normal and plural” journalists, by which he means journalists who oppose secession.
Esteban González Pons, a conservative Spanish member of the European Parliament, tells El País there may be a role for NATO in countering Russian “fake news” about the Catalan crisis. Read more