Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has five options to respond to the threat of direct rule from Madrid:
- Accept the suspension of home rule and step down: Unlikely. Puigdemont has staked his reputation and his career on advancing the independence cause.
- Refuse to step down, but call on other public officials to obey: Also unlikely. When Spain’s Constitutional Court ruled the October 1 referendum illegal, Puigdemont encouraged civil servants to organize the vote anyway.
- Call on Catalan institutions, including the regional police, to resist Spanish intervention: More likely, although it would raise the chance of (violent) confrontation.
- Call snap elections: Probably the wisest choice as it might convince Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy not to revoke Catalonia’s self-government after all.
- Declare independence: Risky, but not unthinkable. Puigdemont has already claimed the October 1 referendum — in which 43 percent of voters turned out and 92 percent backed independence — as a mandate to break away from Spain.