Puigdemont Has Five Options to Respond to Threat of Spanish Rule

The Catalan leader will probably urge resistance to Spanish rule or declare independence.

Carles Puigdemont Mariano Rajoy
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont listens to Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy giving a speech in Barcelona, August 18 (La Moncloa)

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has five options to respond to the threat of direct rule from Madrid:

  1. Accept the suspension of home rule and step down: Unlikely. Puigdemont has staked his reputation and his career on advancing the independence cause.
  2. 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.
  3. Call on Catalan institutions, including the regional police, to resist Spanish intervention: More likely, although it would raise the chance of (violent) confrontation.
  4. Call snap elections: Probably the wisest choice as it might convince Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy not to revoke Catalonia’s self-government after all.
  5. 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.