When Catalan President Charles Puigdemont delayed the independence movement in a speech given on Oct. 3, supporters of Catalan independence, who make up about 40 percent of the population according to a Reuters poll, met the delay with disappointment. Now, nearly 25 days later, Catalan has declared their independence. But the declaration was immediately countered by the Spanish Senate, which authorized the government to seize direct control over the region.
Supporters of Catalonian independence seem to have a number of reasons to support their hopes for secession, some based on individual concerns and some based on more unified problems among the Catalan population.
The most influential reasoning behind the push for independence is the Constitutional Court’s decision to strike down 14 and curtail an additional 27 of the 223 articles presented in the 2006 Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, as reported by the Atlantic.
While the decision may seem minuscule, considering only about 18% of the articles were impacted by the ruling, the articles affected were particularly influential among Catalans, including an article that put a distinct Catalan language above Spanish in the region.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s decision to seize direct control was a reluctant step, expressed Rajoy to the New York Times stating, “We never wanted to reach this situation, never.”
Yet many perceive the difficult decision as a necessary one as Catalan’s move for independence is a direct violation of Spain’s Constitution. Catalonia’s economic influence in Spain has escalated its independence movement to become one of the “biggest political crises in decades to hit Spain”. The Spanish government’s employment of Article 155 from the Spanish Constitution to seize the region could further escalate the situation.
Article 155 can be so severe it has been referred to as the “Nuclear” or “Atomic Bomb” option on several occasions but doesn’t necessarily mean armed conflict will be necessary.
The Washington Post reports Article 155 gives the national government the power to “give orders” to “all authorities” of a regional government if said government “doesn’t comply with the obligations of the Constitution or other laws it imposes, or acts in a way that seriously undermines the interests of Spain.”
However, as extreme as invoking article 155 may sound, BBC suggests a greater risk to Spain’s economy than political violence stating, “There is no suggestion that this could degenerate into armed conflict – but it could damage the region and Spain as a whole economically, bringing new instability to the eurozone.”