What happened in Catalonia yesterday? From UDI to Elections and back to UDI again!
Yesterday was possibly one of the most emotional days I can remember. It started with me recording a video in which I argued that, given the difficulties of applying Article 155 and the fact that the Partido Popular seem to want Catalan blood, a Declaration of Independence seems to be the only option open to the Catalan Parliament on the plenary session which begin and finishes today (Friday).
I went home, edited the video and began the rendering process. I then went down to the bar opposite the flat to read the newspaper and as I walked in I was singing DUI DUI to the tune of Louie Louie by The Kingsmen so I was feeling quite confident. (DUI is the acronym for Declaració Unilateral d’Independència or UDI)
About ten minutes later, my friend Oscar came in and said “Well, it seems like he doesn’t want to go to prison then” and explained that Carles Puigdemont had just announced that he would be calling snap elections, purportedly to avoid the effects of Article 155, but Oscar’s theory was that Puigdemont had had a last minute attack of nerves at the prospect of 30 years in prison.
Feeling slightly deflated, we chatted about the pros and cons as both of us looked through our Twitter updates. I wasn’t convinced that this was the final word on the subject, preferring to wait for Puigdemont’s official announcement which was scheduled for 1.30 pm at the Palau de la Generalitat.
After doing some shopping, I got back home in time for the Partido Popular press conference in which they said that despite the likelihood of elections in Catalonia, they would proceed with the application of Article 155 anyway because “legality” had to be restored in Catalonia.
A little after 1.30, I saw a tweet from journalist Sara Prim, who was at the Palau de la Generalitat, saying that Puigdemont’s statement had been postponed. I translated the tweet into English and Sara confirmed its veracity.
It was clear that the calling of elections was dependent on the withdrawal of Article 155 and the suspension of Puigdemont’s statement was due to the fact that Article 155 hadn’t been withdrawn. I remained glued to the television as the statement was postponed again on various occasions.
Finally, at 5 o’clock, Puigdemont made his appearance at the Palau de la Generalitat and said that as Article 155 hadn’t been withdrawn, there were no guarantees that Catalonia’s autonomy was secure so the decision on whether to call elections or not would be left to a the plenary session of parliament, which would now start at 6 o’clock.
I didn’t watch the whole session but I watched the opening speeches by Lluís Corominas of Junts pel Sí and Anna Gabriel of the CUP for the pro-independence bloc and Ines Arrimadas of Ciudadanos for the unionists and then caught snatches of the other speeches before tuning back in at around 9 pm to listen to Lluís Corominas’ conclusions, which were particularly forcefully expressed.
The upshot is that in the plenary session that continues today (Friday) Parliament will vote on whatever resolutions are put forward but the most important ones are likely to be firstly, a complete rejection of the application of Article 155, and a vote on whether make the declaration of independence official.
It’s worth pointing out that Puigdemont didn’t intervene in yesterday’s parliamentary session and if independence is declared it will be done so as an official parliamentary statement thereby removing any individual responsibility from Carles Puigdemont.
Furthermore, there may be a few renegade votes in Junts pel Sí as, for example, Conseller for Business Santi Vila resigned yesterday in disagreement with the declaration of independence. However, given the speech given by Albano Dante Fachin of Catalunya Sí Que Es Pot last night, it seems equally likely that some members of the leftist fence sitters will come out onto the pro-independence side.
Declaration on Monday?
This means that even if independence isn’t declared, it will certainly be voted on today. I’m guessing that it will only become official on Monday once published in the Diari Oficial de la Generalitat de Catalunya, which is the Generalitat’s official records, thereby leaving time for more political positioning over the weekend.
Anyway, that’s what happened in Catalonia yesterday. This morning, I’ll go down to the Parliament of Catalonia just to check out the atmosphere but I’ll probably come back home earlyish in order to follow today’s proceedings here and in the Senate on television.