Catalonia: Is Spain's constitutional crisis over?

Hundreds of thousands demonstrated for Spain's unity in Barcelona on Sunday. The central government in Madrid has imposed direct rule on secessionist Catalonia and announced new elections for 21 December. Now Rajoy must convince voters to prevent the separatists from winning, some commentators demand. Others see Spain already returning to normality in many respects.

Open/close all quotes
El País (ES) /

Elections can restore normality

Madrid assuming direct control of the region until the elections on 21 December will put Catalonia back on track, El País believes:

“If Article 155 is applied judiciously, coherently and intelligently it is highly likely that Catalonia will soon return to institutional normality, but it will take a long time for the wounds torn open in Catalan society to heal. ... The secessionist block must understand that its demands - provided it doesn't abuse the law - are as legitimate as those of the others and that it now has the opportunity to measure its strength where democratic forces do this: at the ballot box. ... The social majority should mobilise to win the elections so that it never returns to the nightmare Catalonia is experiencing now.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Separatists overrated desire for independence

Many Catalans took part in the demonstrations for the unity of the country and that's a good sign, De Standaard writes:

“It looks like the parties that want independence have overestimated the people's will to take their own path into independence. On the basis of their election victory in 2015 they saw their wishes becoming reality. They were blinded by the boycotted referendum in which 90 percent voted for independence. ... Clearly many Catalans want more powers from Madrid because they pay more into the Spanish coffers than they receive from them. But just because many Catalans want more autonomy doesn't mean they also want an independent Catalonia.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Dream of independence has ended

The outcome of the battle in Catalonia is now clear, the daily Hospodářské noviny concludes:

“Without a drop of blood being spilled the Catalans have been deprived of the independence they had only just declared. They have declared their satisfaction with new elections. The leaders in the battle over independence have realised that none of the hot-blooded fans of independence are so serious about this struggle that they would give up their life for the 'freedom of the homeland'. This tipped the balance. The spirit of separatism that swept through Europe must go back into the bottle. Those on our continent who would like to adopt a similar course, for instance the rich Italian regions, will need to think carefully after what has happened in Catalonia. That's a good thing.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Rajoy must win over Catalonian separatists

Whether new elections can provide a solution to the Catalonia crisis depends to a large extent on Prime Minister Rajoy and his management of events in Barcelona, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung believes:

“According to his roadmap early elections for the regional parliament are to take place in less than two months, on December 21. In the last elections two years ago the separatists won an absolute parliamentary majority. Consequently Rajoy must win over at least part of the electorate if he wants to prevent a new victory for the separatists. If, however, another separatist parliamentary majority is elected even under Madrid's direct control it will be a fiasco for Rajoy.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Sovereignty would be more just

Even if an independent Catalonia were against the law it would still be the more just option, Jutarnji list comments:

“The Spanish government is hiding behind the constitution and denying the Catalan nation the right to self-determination. This may be a political option but not an ethical one. It may be compatible with the law, but it is not just. The Spanish government will bear the responsibility for this option, but probably not the consequences that will affect all Spain.”