The Spanish government’s ultimatum to Catalonia puts more pressure on the regional government which is now stuck between a rock and a hard place.
On one hand, Puigdemont is being pressured by more radical elements within Catalonia’s political establishment — such as the far-left Popular Unity Candidacy party (CUP) — to push ahead with independence. He cannot forget too that 90 percent of around 2.26 million Catalans voted for independence in a symbolic referendum his government held on October 1.
On the other hand, an independent Catalonia would find itself isolated politically and economically, outside the European Union and un-recognized by other European countries. Already several businesses have said they would relocate outside of the region.
Politicians, meanwhile, are divided.
Xavier Domenech, a high-profile figure in En Comú Podem in Catalonia (a coalition formed by left-wing party Podemos and several other similar parties and led by Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau), told CNBC on Thursday that he was disappointed by Rajoy’s lack of appetite for dialogue with Catalonia.
“I know that the Spanish Prime Minister, Rajoy, had the opportunity yesterday to trigger article 155 and he didn’t. However, he did have an opportunity to commence dialogue and instead chose to recite the law again,” he told CNBC, adding: ” Dialogue doesn’t start by constantly belittling the person who you are supposed to be negotiating with.”
“To play, irritate and add to the tension by looking for conflict within the Catalan parliament – is to play with fire. And it isn’t in line with the times we live in,” Domenech warned. “What is in line with the times we live in is that they sit down and talk.”
However, Puigdemont faces pressure from Spanish politicians who say he has to go. Albert Rivera, president of Ciudadanos, an opponent of Catalan independence and ally of Spain’s ruling People’s Party (led by Rajoy), told CNBC Wednesday that new elections were needed in the region, saying “we need a president that will decide to come back to democracy, to come back to the constitution.”