Catalonia says they will reject direct rule from the Spanish central government, setting up a tense showdown between competing centres of power.
Tensions continue to rise in Spain, as Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has announced that he will invoke powers within the constitution to remove the Catalonian regional government and force new elections.
Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont rejected the move, saying it was the “worst attacks against the people of Catalonia,” since the time Spain was ruled by a military-led regime.
As noted by Reuters, “It is the first time since Spain’s return to democracy that the central government has used its powers to seize control of a regional administration.”
How far will each side go?
At this point, the question facing each side is how far they are willing to go. The Spanish government has already shown an authoritarian streak, stealing ballot boxes, arresting opponents, and even dragging citizens out of voting booths. Many say that they could have averted the crisis by showing more of a willingness to listen to the concerns of Catalonians, rather than try to impose centralized control.
Meanwhile, the Catalan leadership remain somewhat evasive. They are rejecting the move by Spain, yet not saying whether they will definitively declare independence.
Both sides are now locked in a game of chicken, and the future of the nation with the fourth largest economy in Europe is at stake.
You can’t unite people by suppressing nationalism and imposing a supra-national institution
While each independence movement is unique, it’s no surprise that Spain is struggling to remain unified. The European Union continues to seek more and more control, attempting to wipe out the unification that comes from nationalism based on a nation-state, and replace it with a vague “European” identity. It clearly isn’t working, and has the ironic counter-effect of strengthening regional independence movements, as we see in Spain.
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