The Odd Bedfellows Fighting for Catalan Independence
The decision was complicated further on Monday by a stark warning from a spokesman for the governing party of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain that Carles Puigdemont, the leader of Catalonia, could be charged with insurrection if he declared independence. The spokesman, Pablo Casado, even drew an analogy with the fate of Lluís Companys, a Catalan leader who was imprisoned for proclaiming a Catalan state in 1934, shortly before Spain’s civil war.
The separatists must now decide whether to declare independence despite the resistance of Madrid and of leading politicians in the European Union. Chancellor Angela Merkel underscored Germany’s support for a united Spain in a weekend phone conversation with Mr. Rajoy.
The foundations of the independence movement have been shaky from the start. To achieve a pro-independence majority in the Catalan Parliament in 2015, the largest political group at the time – the conservative and recently renamed Catalan European Democratic Party – ran on a joint election platform with its main left-wing rival, as well as with a minor Christian democratic party and a small group of social democrats.
This odd union was supported by some prominent Catalans like Pep Guardiola, a celebrated soccer coach, as well as the two main citizens movements that have organized mass street rallies in favor of independence since 2012.
But the separatist coalition fell short of a parliamentary majority, allowing a small and leaderless far-left party, Popular Unity Candidacy, to step in and play the role of kingmaker in a Catalan Parliament dominated by separatists. The party is determined to secede swiftly, but disagrees profoundly with other separatists on how to then shape a new Catalan republic, starting with its rejection of the euro as a currency.
The alliance is facing a major test on Tuesday, when separatist lawmakers are expected to vote on a unilateral declaration of independence.
Hard-line and far-left separatists want a decisive and rapid break from Mr. Rajoy’s national government, following the highly controversial Catalan referendum on Oct. 1 that had been suspended by Spain’s constitutional court.