Catalonia on the brink
The threat of a constitutional crisis in Spain eased this week when the president of Catalonia’s regional parliament stepped back from an immediate declaration of independence. In the wake of the referendum of 1 October – which saw 90% opt for independence on a turnout of 43%, during a vote marred by police violence – Carles Puigdemont said he had signed a declaration of independence, but had suspended it so that talks could be held with Madrid. However, ministers reiterated the government’s position that the referendum was illegal, and said that there would be no talks until Catalan leaders abandoned the goal of independence.
Earlier in the week, some 350,000 pro-unity protesters took to the streets of Barcelona for a peaceful demonstration under the slogan Hablemos (“Let’s talk”). Many of the marchers carried Spanish flags and chanted, “Don’t be fooled – Catalonia is Spain”.