Crowds at Catalan President Carles Puigdemont’s speech on Oct. 3 were disappointed to learn that Catalonia’s independence would be delayed to allow for negotiations with leaders in Madrid, according to the New York Times.
After declaring independence on Oct. 1, separatists expected Mr. Puidgemont to affirm this declaration during his speech. Instead he has adopted a less radical strategy.
The Catalan movement for independence started when Spain’s constitutional court cut 14 and curtailed 27 of the 223 articles of the 2006 Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, as reported by the Atlantic. President Puigdemont, who was elected in 2015, is the first president to make a hard move towards independence.
An independent Catalonia could yield massive effects on the Spanish and European economy. Spain relies on Catalonia for a great deal of resources and exports, as the region represents the eurozone’s fourth largest economy. Reuters reported that the president’s speech announcing a delay in independence was enough time to significantly boost the value of the euro.
According to the New York Times, Mr. Puigdemont has received harsh criticism from many members of the Spanish government. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has staunchly opposed the independence movement. Pablo Casando, a spokesperson for Rajoy’s party, has said that President Puigdemont’s actions are insurrection and grounds for imprisonment.
Puigdemont has said that he and his movement have nothing against Spaniards but only want what is best for Catalonia.
Reports from the Atlantic and the New York Times indicate that as high as 90 percent of Catalan voters supported independence. However, this statistic is not necessarily representational as voter turnout was only 43 percent and non-separatists were said to have boycotted the vote. Additionally, President Puigdemont said that the Spanish government attempted to use scare tactics to interfere with the election.
Reuters reported that opinion polls before the vote indicated only 40 percent of Catalans supported independence. Though numerous separatists were highly disappointed by the delaying of independence, it is unclear if their sentiment matches the majority of Catalans.