- Nine Catalan separatist leaders have been found guilty of sedition and in some cases misuse of public funds by Spain’s Supreme Court.
- Among the convicted is former Catalan vice president, and leader of one of the two largest independence parties in the region, Oriol Junqueras, who has been sentenced to thirteen years in prison.
- The Supreme Court threw out the most serious charge, rebellion, which carries a 25-year prison sentence.
- Demonstrations have broken out across Catalonia. Protesters are blocking major streets in Barcelona. Some are attempting to occupy the airport.
- A European arrest warrant has been reissued for former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who denounced the verdict as an “outrage” from self-imposed exile in Belgium. Read more “Catalan Independence Leaders Sentenced to 9-13 Years in Prison”
Twelve Catalans — ten politicians and two activists — went on trial this week for their role in the 2017 independence referendum and attempted secession from Spain.
There is a good chance the defendants, who include the former Catalan vice president, Oriol Junqueras — who still leads one of the region’s two largest pro-independence parties — will be found guilty of at least some of the charges against them. The Spanish Constitutional Court had, after all, forbidden the referendum in advance and the Spanish Constitution refers to the country’s “indissoluble” unity.
Hopefully the Supreme Court in Madrid (which is separate from the Constitutional Court) will throw out the more serious — and much harder to prove — accusations of rebellion and sedition, which carry prison sentences of up to 25 years.
But even light sentences would be a tragedy. This trial should never have happened. The 2017 referendum, which most opponents of independence boycotted, should never have happened. The reason it did is that the Spanish government at the time, led by the conservative People’s Party, refused dialogue with an increasingly restless nationalist movement in Catalonia. Read more “Tragedy in Catalonia”
Without an agreement to regulate Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, a majority of Northern Irish and Scots would rather remain in the bloc than in the United Kingdom.
Even with the deal Prime Minister Theresa May has negotiated, which provides for a two-year transition out of the EU and avoids a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a majority of Scots would prefer to break away from the UK. Read more “Northern Irish, Scots Would Rather Stay in EU Than UK”
Catalan president Quim Torra has given the Spanish government of Pedro Sánchez an ultimatum: allow the Catalans to exert their right to self-determination (which Spain doesn’t recognize) by November or lose the support of Catalan nationalist parties in Congress.
Sánchez needs the Catalans for his majority, but Torra’s position is weaker. Read more “Torra Gives Spain Ultimatum. His Position Is Weak”
Catalan unionists, including the leaders of the region’s largest anti-independence party, Citizens, have taken to the streets to remove yellow ribbons that agitate for the release of separatist leaders.
Some eighty people descended on La Bisbal, a small town close to the French border, last night to remove yellow ribbons from buildings, wearing white industrial suits and masks.
The mayor, Lluís Sais, condemned the action, saying,
When someone has nothing to hide, and has no shame, they do not cover their faces.
Citizens party leaders Albert Rivera and Inés Arrimadas nevertheless joined the protest on Wednesday, removing yellow ribbons in Alella, half an hour’s drive north of Barcelona. Read more “The Pettiness of Catalonia’s Unionists”
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 “Catalan and Spanish Leaders Take Steps to Normalize Relations”
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 “Sánchez Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Federalizing Spain”
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 “Who Is Catalonia’s New President and What Happens Next?”
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 still hasn’t been a breakthrough. Read more “Deal Slips Away in Catalonia as Both Sides Dig In”
An Austrian proposal to extend dual citizenship to German-speaking inhabitants of South Tyrol has heightened already tense relations with Italy over the region.
However, secession — in the wake of failed independence bids in Catalonia and Scotland — remains unlikely. Read more “South Tyroleans Bide Their Time”