What is the Catalonian separatists' strategy?
Catalonian president Carles Puigdemont has postponed the region's secession from Spain. In his speech to the regional parliament he said that the declaration of independence would be postponed to make room for dialogue with Madrid. For some commentators the move is a step in the direction of reconciliation, while for others it is just the opposite.
Don't respond to attempts at blackmail
For El País Puigdemont's appeal is simply another attempt at blackmail by the Catalan separatists:
“Many will feel tempted to cling to the provisional suspension and Puigdemont's offer of dialogue. The frustration of the [far left] coalition partner CUP and its separatist supporters also confirm Puigdemont's apparent willingness to negotiate and that of [the third coalition partner] Junqueras [of the left-wing separatist party ERC]. But everyone should realise that the confusion Puigdemont has caused is an integral component of his separatist strategy and by no means a sincere offer to return to the constitutional framework and initiate a dialogue without preconditions. It is another ultimatum that the state must not accept under any circumstances.”
Now Madrid must assume responsibility
Now it's up to the central government to de-escalate the confrontation, political scientist Viriato Soromenho Marques writes in Diário de Notícias:
“After the less than subtle way in which Rajoy and his ruling People's Party reacted to the independence referendum in Catalonia, Puigdemont - contrary to what many had expected and others hoped - held a moderate and conciliatory speech in the regional parliament on Tuesday. He left it to Madrid to decide whether to increase or reduce the tensions. ... If Madrid and Barcelona (with the current or newly elected dialogue partners) were to prove able to conduct a political, civilised and peaceful dialogue, the prospects would be good for all Europeans.”
The situation remains tense even after Puigdemont's back-pedalling, Polityka comments:
“The independence referendum was deemed unconstitutional and hence illegal. And even people on the streets in Spain have spoken out against independence. In Catalonia too, many people have demonstrated for the status quo. A responsible politician cannot ignore the facts, which is why postponing independence is a gesture of good will and reason. Only [Prime Minister] Rajoy can interpret it as a capitulation on Catalonia's part. So the situation continues to be tense and unclear. One thing is for sure: the Catalonian question has damaged the reputation of the Rajoy government and Spanish democracy. But now, after Puigdemont's speech in the Catalonian parliament, there is the chance to improve it once more.”
Danger of radicalisation
Postponing independence is not without its hazards, Le Courrier warns:
“The risk for Carles Puigdemont is that his troops' demobilisation and disappointment could become as great as the hopes that had been kindled. After making empty promises about what it would do in case of independence, the Catalonian movement is now learning about power relations the hard way. The divisions between separatist currents could resurface violently, and some, seeing that the democratic path is blocked, could opt for more radical methods. In that case the tactical withdrawal of October 10 could turn out to be a fatal mistake.”
Puigdemont needs to get real
Catalonia's head of government Carles Puigdemont is acting irresponsibly and letting himself be carried away by his emotions, Offnews criticises:
“It's wonderful that Puigdemont loves Catalonia, as he says. What he lacks, however, is the willingness for dialogue he owes not only to the Catalonians but also to the Spaniards and the Europeans. Not a single European country has supported the Catalonian government's rash desire for separation. The euphoria of the unconstitutional referendum is now being replaced by a sense of disillusionment. It is increasingly clear that arguments and reason must prevail against emotion. Around a million people demonstrated on Sunday in Barcelona. ... They too love Catalonia, but that doesn't stop them from wanting a united Spain.”