1.- At this point, the sequence we could anticipate since before the October 1st is working as a clock. Last Tuesday, a chameleon UDI took place, since every one saw in it what wanted to see. Some saw a call to dialogue, others, a unilateral declaration. To me, more than a trick, this UDI format is a sign of the internal restrictions within the pro-independence bloc —that complex dialectics streets-office. A bloc that with such strategies ends up showing cracks, but it has been perfectly able to consistently recompose itself since 2015 (when Artur Mas was put aside at the aproval of budgets). There is no doubt that it is going to do it again, because what this non-UDI is seeking is to have a minimum impact in order to avoid shooing internal support away or alienate the international ones, but get the state to react. Too much progresses have been made for breaking ranks now.
2.- Mariano Rajoy wisely cleared the ball in his reaction of last Wednesday: Formal request to the Generalitat, sending this way the political initiative back to Barcelona, trying to exploit the differences between their rivals and, en passant, taking the previous step to Article 155. Meanwhile, the Socialist Party came out to show its support, and said that it had an agreement with the Popular Party on a constitutional reform (putting Citizens and Podemos offside). It is well-played play on the part of bipartisanship. Now, they say, the responsibility over what happens falls ultimately on the Catalan President —a textbook blame game.
3.- Following what I mentioned above, the pro-independence movement’s interests concur in preferring the enforcement of Article 155 and ignore any reformist initiative (to which, obviously, they do not give any credibility). Both if you are a moderate supporter of independence and want election, or if you are a hard-liner and prefer the maximum of chaos so the EU drags Spain to a table, it should pass at least through the Article 155 and trying to capitalize it. This is why I seriously doubt that Carles Puigdemont’s response will be claiming that Article 4 of the Law of Referendum was not enforced. Mr Puigdemont is a lame duck (he is not running again for office), court processes will continue relentlessly, and the so varied supports are keeping him tied to the mast.
4.- Applying this precept is going to be a major challenge for the state, but four things should be reminded. First, it is not automatic; the government could get the Senate endorsement but never use it. Second, that specific measures must be passed on this House, and, in principle, there is no material restrictions to it —though surely they will absorb security, administration and presidency, besides a potential dissolution of Catalan Parliament. Third, this is a precept with no deadline for enforcement, but sooner or later, however, the powers will must be returned to the Generalitat. Sooner or later, citizens will end up voting (and, if a pro-independence majority wins again, what should we do? Start over again?) Finally, that Article 155 represents a major operative challenge not just for the Spanish General Administration to exercise such powers, but also because of the social mobilization that undoubtedly will protest in response —if not the emergence of a parallel House or government, boycotts of all sorts or the remaining apparatus of an irredentist Catalonia.
5.- Catalonia’s polarisation has blown basic consensus up, and the future charges will bee deep. The pro-independence movement has succeeded in taking its goals to heights never dreamed of (and I think that its massive capacity of mobilization and collective intelligence worth to be studied). In this respect, the clumsiness of Spanish government has been a true fertilizer, and I am sure that instrumental independentists will become less and less, and the “incorruptibles” will increase. Sure, the price to pay will be, as La Vida Moderna puts it, the “retro-process”. The protests over the re-centralization of powers or a restrictive interpretation of Constitution could pale in the face of the tsunami of closing a territorial model which excludes the independence supporters from negotiation. The “not yielding to the independence supporters’ blackmail” rationale will make its way. Along with it, the state will return to Catalonia, and that means that it will penetrate social life, organize the disaffected people, and a large etcetera. We can be sure that there will not be a need to bring them by bus —that part of Catalonia has always been there and it is going to mobilize. Not only the pro-independence flags, also Spanish flags will start to dress Catalonia’s balconies up.
6.- Modestly, I always think that the problem in Catalonia is less about dialogue and more about the internal restrictions within each bloc. The one only thing that the other can not give without committing suicide is what is demanded. But, in addition, since September 6th, the only dilemma is how to re-establish the legal order in Catalonia without averting its eventual fit in the state. Given the very likely enforcement of Article 155, we will see what is the price to pay. As for the merits of the case, I still declare myself an agnostic about the referendum. Actually, I do not even believe that it is going to resolve the problem itself (because, after all, I do not believe in neither the independence nor in the current status quo). Honestly, we should had discussed this much earlier, specially because I think that a reform of the state could really be a win win, and since 2015 we had some chances to succeed. Without excluding, of course, a referendum after or before the reform. However, it has little relevance by now. To the concerned, this is not about resolving the problem, but to win. But at what cost…