Anna van Densky, OPINION On contrary to what many in Madrid and Brussel hope, the aspiration of independence of Catalans, and problem it poses to Kingdom of Spain, and a number of European countries concerned with separatists movements, this dream of independence will not fade away. There were around 70 states after the WWII, and now at the UN there are more than 200, and their number is continuing to grow, so independence is clearly a world trend to stay.
The trend which insures that Mariano Rajoy and all successive governments will be facing a constant pressure from the Catalans, both citizens and political class, aspiring freedom. The only viable solution is in following Czechoslovakia model of separation, known as ‘velvet divorce’ diminishing related damages of all kinds, and removing combustible of a potential conflict in future.
In case of unconditional recognition of Catalan independence by Spain, the breakaway region can stay in the EU, NATO and continue to cultivate close economic ties with Madrid. It would be a mutually beneficial relationship between two countries, and also for the larger EU community.
However it is highly unlikely that Rajoy government will accept this ‘velvet’ way of dealing with the issue, as the entire world have seen his choice of repression as a method of resolving the political crisis. Usually gurus avoid to speculate on the future, pointing at the absence of a crystal ball, but in some cases the forecast is easier to model, because the situation is typical, occurring many times before.
In Catalan case there are three possible scenarios, and among them one is highly hypothetic, mentioned above ‘velvet divorce’.
The two other are rather standard: or Carles Puigdemont without delay declares independence based on the results of the plebiscite, and moves on with the state construction agenda outside the EU, with support of some of the European countries, and some of EU member-states, recognising free Catalan Republic, or he loses momentum.
In case Catalans lose the momentum, Rajoy would go into offensive with multiple Court cases, accusing Catalan politicians of coup-d’état – the blame already articulated by Spanish diplomats in mass-media. In this case, Puigdemont will face 14 Stations of the Cross literally, not allegorically, because Spanish courts will charge him with treason.
The most active members of political elite would face the similar fate, and the independence movement would be ‘beheaded’, which is a rather standard scenario repeated many times through history.
The other practical step would be taken into direction of undermining the economic base for independence, with the removal of key financial and industrial players from Catalonia. (The process has already started with the relocation of offices of Spanish banks). Is is already clear that Madrid would prefer to sacrifice economy and living standards of the population, punishing Catalonia, for the sake of the unity of the Kingdom.
Logically, facing the betrayal of the EU, rejecting to protect human rights of Catalans, denying them the right of self-determination, and referring to the situation as to an home affair of Spain, Puigdemont has no much space for maneuvering horizontally, but only between raise and fall vertically. The clock is ticking, so are the risks of postponing the independence declaration for tomorrow, that might never come…