The breakup of Spain suddenly lurched a lot closer after the secessionist government of Catalunya confirmed it is working upon an independence bill it will shortly present to the regional parliament.
The bill outlines a new, independent Republic for Catalunya and commits the region to declaring unilateral independence if a full referendum is not immediately agreed upon by Madrid. Read the leaked draft in El Pais (English).
President Mariano Rajoy made an emergency appearance before his national committee to say it was a “political delirium” and told El País newspaper that “this is an attempt to dissolve a 21st century nation in 24 hours.”
Described as “tense and furious” the Spanish President, already rattled by the possibility of his government falling to a coalition of left wing parties after Sánchez took command of the PSOE yesterday, declared that he would never let this happen, saying “This is a blackmail of the Spanish state”.
He invited Puigdemont, President of Catalunya, to appear before Congress to explain his “threats and blackmail”.
In fact, Rajoy is so rattled by the proposal that he called a press meeting to explain his next steps, something he almost never does – Rajoy hates talking to the press.
But Rajoy managed to cock it all up – he gave the impression of a rat in a corner, and to top it off, when asked if he’d talked to Sánchez to congratulate the new leader of the opposition upon his win, said he hadn’t because “I’m sure he’s very busy today and I didn’t want to bother him.”
Catalunya just sat back quietly and smirked.
El País printed a leaked draft of the law today. It contemplates a new state, independent from Spain, with Catalan as its official language, independent judiciary and executive, and the Spanish Civil Service in Catalunya to be transferred to Barcelona’s control.
The bill seeks to be approved via a full, free and fair referendum by the Catalan people, and if Madrid refuses to permit such a referendum the bill authorises a unilateral declaration of independence, along with amnesty for all “political victims of the secession” and all assets of the Spanish state in Catalunya to be seized.
If this bill, in its current form, is approved by the Catalan region – and it could well be – the only thing to stop the Spanish state from splitting would be the unthinkable action of Madrid sending in the military to dissolve the regional parliament and arrest the politicians. An act that would cause social upheaval not seen since the Civil War.
And if the bill passes, will the Basque Country be far behind in approving their own version?
One other thought comes to mind. Barcelona is rumoured to be the favourite to host the European Drugs Agency when it relocates from London next year. I bet this political move has just scuppered that.