Cat­alo­nia cri­sis: What is next?

Kuwait Times - - International -

MADRID: Spain on Fri­day sacked Cat­alo­nia’s re­gional gov­ern­ment, dis­solved the Cata­lan par­lia­ment and called a snap elec­tion in the re­gion for Dec 21, in a bid to draw a line un­der the coun­try’s worst po­lit­i­cal cri­sis in 40 years. Be­low are sev­eral sce­nar­ios of what could hap­pen in the next few days.

Di­rect rule

Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy sacked Cat­alo­nia’s gov­ern­ment in­clud­ing re­gional pres­i­dent Car­les Puigde­mont and his deputy Oriol Jun­queras and as­sumed di­rect con­trol over the re­gion. Cen­tral gov­ern­ment min­istries as­sumed the pow­ers of the Cata­lan ad­min­is­tra­tion un­til a re­gional elec­tion takes place on Dec. 21.

Elec­tions

It is not clear whether a snap re­gional elec­tion will re­solve the cri­sis. An opinion poll pub­lished by El Mundo on Sun­day showed that pro-in­de­pen­dence par­ties may lose their par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity and even ar­rive be­hind an­ti­in­de­pen­dence forces. The vote could re­sult into a hung par­lia­ment.

Other opinion polls have also shown Cat­alo­nia is al­most evenly split be­tween pro- and anti-in­de­pen­dence sup­port­ers.

Civil dis­obe­di­ence

Cat­alo­nia’s main se­ces­sion­ist groups have called for wide­spread civil dis­obe­di­ence. They also in­structed civil ser­vants not to obey or­ders from Madrid and re­spond with peace­ful re­sis­tance. It is un­clear whether such calls will be fol­lowed or not. A key test will be when 200,000 civil ser­vants re­turn to work.

Use of force

Spain’s gov­ern­ment said it was not plan­ning to make any ar­rests, but it is un­clear how it will pro­ceed if the cur­rent re­gional ad­min­is­tra­tion staff refuse to leave their of­fices. None of the im­me­di­ate Cata­lan cabi­net, in­clud­ing Puigde­mont, are thought to have spent the week­end in the Barcelona cen­tral of­fices and it is un­clear if they will at­tempt to re­turn to work yes­ter­day. A grow­ing num­ber of an­a­lysts have feared this could lead to a phys­i­cal con­fronta­tion if national po­lice, who used heavy-handed tac­tics to thwart an Oct. 1 vote on in­de­pen­dence, seek to in­ter­vene.

Po­lice

One of the main prob­lems over the im­ple­men­ta­tion of di­rect rule will re­late to Cat­alo­nia’s own po­lice forces, the Mos­sos d’Esquadra. On Satur­day, the Mos­sos chief Josep Lluis Trap­ero was fired. The new chief told of­fi­cers they should re­main neu­tral. In an open letter on Sun­day, In­te­rior Min­is­ter Juan Ig­na­cio Zoido praised the Mos­sos for their work and urged them to ac­cept tem­po­rary di­rec­tion from Madrid. But a group of Mos­sos fa­vor­ing in­de­pen­dence had pre­vi­ously said they would not fol­low in­struc­tions from the cen­tral gov­ern­ment and would not use force to re­move min­is­ters and law­mak­ers from power. Sev­eral of­fi­cers told Reuters they be­lieved the 17,000-strong force was split be­tween those who want in­de­pen­dence and those who op­pose it. The Mos­sos, whose for­mer chief is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion on sus­pi­cion of sedi­tion, will have to act on di­rect or­ders from their new bosses. If deemed nec­es­sary, Mos­sos of­fi­cers may be re­placed by national po­lice.

Fi­nances

The econ­omy and bud­get min­istries took full con­trol over re­gional fi­nances on Fri­day. Many com­pa­nies have how­ever said on con­di­tion of anonymity that they feared a new Cata­lan trea­sury could start levy­ing taxes, and that they would seek to move their tax base out­side Cat­alo­nia. It is also pos­si­ble that some pro-in­de­pen­dence Cata­lans will stop pay­ing their taxes to the Span­ish trea­sury.

Pub­lic me­dia

The Span­ish gov­ern­ment had ini­tially said it would con­trol widely watched Cata­lan pub­lic tele­vi­sion TV3, but it even­tu­ally dropped that plan. The me­dia is likely to play an im­por­tant role in the run-up to the new elec­tion in Cat­alo­nia.

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