World hooked on to developments in Spain
The situation in Spain came to a head this week with the Catalonian leadership finally declaring the region’s independence from Spain. As thousands of Catalonians celebrated the regional parliament’s vote, the Spanish national senate voted overwhelmingly to approve Article 155 powers allowing Barcelona’s authority to be removed in an attempt to stop independence in its tracks. T he fast unfolding developments in Spain kept the world hooked and stayed on as the top focus of global media. The Guardian lamented the fact that matters in Catalonia were allowed to spiral out of control. “There is no doubt that the Catalan leadership acted illegally in holding the referendum. There can equally be no doubt that Madrid turned a blind eye to legal and civil rights when it dismissed criticism of police brutality in the anti-referendum operations. It is beyond question that a legal response is inadequate to fix this problem: the Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, was right to remind Spain that a political crisis can only be solved through dialogue. Madrid’s inept and tonedeaf response to the independence movement has inflamed the cause, not dampened the fire. Matters should never have got to this stage. They should go no further. Economic damage is already evident; the damage to the social fabric of Spain, and Catalonia in particular, is equally obvious and, in the long run, may prove harder to repair. But when tempers are so heated it is clear that this crisis is likely to get worse before it gets better. How much more will be destroyed before the flames are beaten down?,” the paper asked.
In a hard-hitting op-ed, Washington Post advocated the practice of pragmatism to deal with the crisis. The paper explained, “Spain is in crisis, and the steps both sides take over the next few weeks will have an impact on this country and all of Europe for years to come. For Catalonia to ensure a stable future for its people, the silent majority will need to find its voice and bring seny (pragmatism) back to the heart of Catalan and Spanish society. That means voting for new leadership on December 21 that will represent all Catalans, not just the ones who will stop at nothing short of independence. That means the politicians of Madrid need to be less hard-line and more willing to listen.”
Noting that Catalonia’s declaration of independence has come too soon, The Independent editorialised, “The peaceful route to sustainable independence for Catalonia is to work towards a referendum by agreement with the central government in Madrid, in which both sides would respect the outcome. Sadly, that option has not been possible, partly because the Madrid government is too influenced by the history of the Civil War (in which demands for Catalan independence played a part on the Republican side) and by the more recent experience of fighting Eta terrorists seeking Basque independence (whose violence alienated most of the Basque population).” Financial Times warned against the dangers of confrontation. “Some Catalan ministers have signalled they will refuse to recognise directives by the Spanish government this weekend removing them from office. Activists have promised to take to the streets and defend ministers as they try and return to work. There has long been fear that the imposition of direct rule would lead to a sustained campaign of opposition to Madrid,” the paper said.