Catalan leader faces deadline to renounce independence or face Madrid’s wrath

Catalan leader faces deadline to renounce independence or face Madrid’s wrath

Today marks the Spanish government’s deadline for the Catalan government to declare whether it intends to secede. Madrid has threatened

Deadline approaches for Catalan President Carles Puigdemont

Photo: Daniel Biskup/BILD

Today marks the Spanish government’s deadline for the Catalan government to declare whether it intends to secede. Madrid has threatened to suspend the region’s autonomy if it dithers on deciding.

In a post-referendum speech to the regional parliament, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont hedged on unilaterally seceding, saying he wished to negotiate with Madrid. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy rejected talks, instead giving Puigdemont until today to clarify his position.

Neither leader appears ready to back down as each must serve his constituency. For the Catalan president that is the over 2 million who voted to leave Spain; if he backs down he’ll avert suspended autonomy but lose his parliamentary majority. Mr Rajoy must satisfy the hundreds of thousands of Spaniards—including many Catalans—who have protested against independence.

The likely outcome appears to be snap elections in Catalonia. A victory for the governing pro-independence parties would prolong the current crisis and force Madrid to consider giving greater autonomy to the region. If pro-union parties prevail then the door will shut on independence—for now at least.

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