Puigdemont opts for the Slovenian way to independence
Carles Puigdemont, 130th President of the Catalan Generalitat government, this evening baffled friend and foe alike by offering a cunning formula for declaring independence. At the parliamentary session -called for the poorly-defined purpose of dealing with “political affairs”- he took the opportunity to “analyse the results” of the October 1st Referendum (90% YES, 7% NO, 43% participation with widespread police violence against polling stations) and define his political line for the future: declaring independence, yes, but putting the decision in the freezer for an undetermined period of time to study ways of opening up dialogue and seeking or responding to mediation offers (Switzerland, the Elders, 8 Peace Nobel Prize-Winners etc.).
The session started one hour late as the final speech formula had to be blessed by a rather upset CUP. The Catalan alternative left party wanted a more direct and classical independence declaration formula and were –and are- unhappy about not implementin its immediate effects. They have even threatened to cease all parliamentary activity until the mediation process is over.
The parliamentary session was followed by 30,000 independentists at Arc de Triomf, where dozens of tractors had gathered as they had for many of the recent rallies and demonstrations. Thousands gathered too in Girona, Reus and other cities. Response to Puigdemont’s promise that independence was to be the lead-off from the poll results was enthusiastic, though some disappointment was seen when he later said that the effective implementation of independence was to be postoned for some time. A formula that incidentally reminds one of the case in Slovenia, where the fear of a violent Sebian reaction –as had happened in Croatia- led to a provisionally frozen independence declaration.
The unionist parties in the Parliament all showed their disgust for Puigdemont’s speech although the fact that oposition leader Arrimadas’ was in written form, led her to some incoherent comments. Madrid reaction to the session was initially slower than expected, probably due to the unexpected formula used. Soraya Saenz de Santamaría came out with one of her predictably law-obsessed clichés. Tomorrow will see the fuller answer of the Madrid government to the session, a reaction which may well centre more on the official signing ceremony of the Declaration of Independence document –by all Junts pel Sí and CUP MPs- than on Puigdemont’s speech as such. A speech that incorporated some Spanish, to address viewers in Spain, and a comprehensive message of integration and harmony aimed at all Catalan citizens, indy or not.