The Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, yesterday began the process of imposing Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution on Catalonia. This is the response of the State to the offer of talks made by the president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, last Wednesday. Article 155 has never been implemented and, in fact, it is a blank check. Invoking this article, with the lack of precedents and feeling buoyed up by the PSOE and especially Cs, the PP government can do as it sees fit. Should it so wish it can even ignore the Statute and call elections. As part of the Constitution, Article 155 takes priority over the Statute, which is simply an organic law. Rajoy’s demand for clarification of the Declaration is simply rhetoric, a necessary pretext. By invoking Article 155, the state can do as it pleases. Is this possible?
The Spanish government is aware that it must measure its reaction. It must not only have a semblance of legality but also of respect for democratic norms. This makes the demand that Catalan leaders have been making for some time more important: keeping calm and moving ahead. It is the State which would benefit from incivility from Catalan separatists. Catalonia is now the focus of international attention and what is seen is that of the parties involved, the Catalans are reaching out to avoid conflict. If Rajoy ignores this opportunity with any authoritarian gesture, Spain would be shunned for decades. Unfortunately, in view of the speech made yesterday in Congress, it seems that the government will not take the opportunity. The same story filled with falsehoods and stereotypes, referring to a Catalonia that does not exist.