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The goal: a collapse from within

Catalonia’s independent process leaps from one crisis to the next but it survives

Spain’s PP government is banking on its Catalan counterpart to set off its own unaided collapse. Aznar’s old motto is their preferred course of action: Catalonia will fall apart before Spain does. It remains to be seen whether they will succeed. If so, Rajoy’s government could spare itself any harsh measures against Catalonia’s home rule aimed at preventing the referendum on independence from being held. While taking action would appease the hawks, it would also tarnish Spain’s image abroad and would be a reminder for the Catalan public of the contempt it is held in.

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has displayed more sangfroid than anticipated by some, and he is able to wriggle out of the tensions between his partners, his own political party and the representatives of civil society. By sacking minister Baiget, Puigdemont failed to resolve the internal crisis because the minister merely said out loud what many were saying in private and because, as a political figure, Baiget is well-regarded by his own people.

Therefore, Puigdemont needed to make a move and regain support. Some grumbled about decisions being taken outside the cabinet, whereas others openly argued that the brunt of Spain’s legal onslaught ought to be shared evenly. These days, filled with rumours, tension and the odd manoeuvre by Madrid, have given us two announcements: a general coordinator for the referendum is to be appointed and the president will sign an order transferring powers to Vice President Junqueras and Foreign Minister Romeva to facilitate the purchase of ballot boxes.

Catalonia’s independent process leaps from one crisis to the next but it survives, much to the desperation of those in Madrid who claim it has drawn its last breath every week. And, in the meantime, the mercury keeps rising.

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