Before analysing what happened last Friday on the Catalan Parliament, it is important to look carefully at the massive variety show that developed on Thursday, because it was then when the defeat of the separatist policy revealed itself in its true magnitude. Carles Puigdemont was reportedly ready to sign the decree calling on regional election in exchange for not implementing the Article 155. All indications are that it involved also the demand of other “guarantees” linked to the criminal consequences of possible crimes committed by its government and both Jordis. But the point is that the threat of the UDI was completely gone in the negotiations between the Catalan government in the Palau of Generalitat and the central government in Moncloa. In the previous days, many voices were asking quite foolishly for “neither UDI nor 155”, reinforcing this way the impression that this was about a quid pro quo (one thing in exchange for another). Remember that the October 10th, the Catalan president left on hold a declaration of independence that supposedly was endorsed by the results of the October 1st referendum, emphasizing its unavoidable “democratic mandate”.
Regarding his people, putting what was stipulated by the Law of Referendum on hold was meant to negotiate over its implementation or, at least, to find international mediators who could force the Spanish government to sit down to negotiate a satisfactory response to the whish for independence of pro-sovereign movement. Well then, at the moment of truth, there was absolutely nothing about all that. The only thing that emerged as a matter for negotiation was the calling on regional elections in exchange for Mariano Rajoy not imposing the direct rule over the Generalitat via Article 155.
This is a very clear defeat, because it means that everything done by the separatist movement during the Catalan process has been in vain. After the solemn resolution in November, 2015, which marked the start of the legislature, the Catalan institutions positioned in the “pre-independence” (the secession was supposedly to culminate in an 18-months period, disregarding the Spanish constitutional order after that). However, last Thursday, the only thing Puigdemont wanted to avoid was the self-government to be taken back to a near “pre-autonomy” situation. The grief over such vain efforts, and such squandered energies, only to end up voting on a new regional election, was deep among the separatist movement believers. The Catalan president was close to inflict the worst humiliation, hence the outraged reaction the news received in social media and the streets, mainly against the PDeCAT.
In the end, there was no calling on election because Mr Puidgdemont was afraid of becoming a traitor, and those legal “guarantees” could not be fulfilled under the rule of law, albeit both the Socialist Party and People’s Party were ready to put the enforcement of Article 155 on hold. With the yesterday’s last-minute UDI, the separatist parties have tried to conceal their defeat, to heal personal wounds and re-elaborate a narrative with some illusion ingredient with an eye on the future. The fact that JxSí and CUP MPs asked for a secret vote, in an effort to avoid any criminal consequences for further crimes, shows the strictly symbolic nature of the proclamation of such Catalan Republic. A secret, embarrassing UDI, in an effort to conceal its defeat and putting an end to five exhausting years of Catalan process. It leaves behind a deeply divided society, with devastated institutions, and a seriously damaged economy, albeit in the best scenario, the environment of political uncertainty dissolve after the regional election on 21st of December, wisely called on by the Spanish government, protected by the so unfairly reviled Article 155.