In the latest twist ahead of tomorrow's much anticipated "next step" announcement to be made by the Catalan secessionists, which is still to be formalized, Spain's EFE newswire reports that Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont has reportedly drafted a declaration of "gradual independence", that will be "gradually effective" and which will plan to start a constituent process.
The declaration, which will cap what El Periodico dubbed "the most critical moment for Catalonia" will allegedly insist on Catalonia's wish to negotiate with central government and the need for mediation, although in an indication that Puigdemont may be back tracking from his hard-line "binary" stance, EFE adds that the Declaration won’t lead to parliamentary vote, and as such may be non-binding.
El Periódico's Tuesday front page: "End of the line. Most critical moment for Catalonia". pic.twitter.com/BfTxG5Ge3Z
— The Spain Report (@thespainreport) October 9, 2017
The news is the latest development in a fast-paced day, in which as we reported earlier this morning, the ruling People's Party issued a thinly veiled death threat to the President of Catalonia. "Let's hope that nothing is declared tomorrow because perhaps the person who makes the decalartion will end up like the person who made the declaration 83 years ago."
Additionally, perhaps as a Plan B, Catalan secessionists opened a second-front in their campaign against the government in Madrid, urging the opposition Socialists to forge a coalition to oust Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Bloomberg reported and added that while the Socialists have so far refused to sign up to the plan, the Catalan groups pushing it have already persuaded the populist Podemos party to back and accept a Socialist-only government.
Should the Socialists get on board, the alliance would have 172 seats in the 350-strong chamber and would look to add the Basque Nationalists to form a majority. Rajoy heads a minority administration with 134 deputies and can be toppled with a no-confidence motion.
Meanwhile, as reported overnight, Catalan secessionist leader Carles Puigdemont faced increased pressure on Monday to abandon plans to declare independence from Spain, with France and Germany expressing support for the country's unity. The Madrid government, grappling with Spain's biggest political crisis since an attempted military coup in 1981, said it would respond immediately to any such unilateral declaration.
A week after a vote on independence which the government did its utmost to thwart, the tension also took its toll on the business climate of Spain's wealthiest region. Over the weekend and on Monday, another three Catalonia-based companies joined a business exodus from the region that has gathered steam since the Oct. 1 referendum.
Property group Inmobiliaria Colonial and infrastructure firm Abertis both decided to relocate their head offices to Madrid and telecoms firm Cellnex said it would do the same for as long as political uncertainty in Catalonia continued.
Publishing house Grupo Planeta said it would move its registered office from Barcelona to Madrid if the Catalan parliament unilaterally declared independence.
Spain's finance minister said it was the Catalan government's fault the companies were leaving.
Regional leader Carles Puigdemont is due to address the regional parliament on Tuesday afternoon and Madrid is worried it will vote for a unilateral declaration of independence.
Should Puigdemont declare unconditional independence, it is likely that Spain's PM Rajoy will trigger Article 155, the so-called "nuclear option" to seize control over the semi-autonomous region, remove Catalonia's government and call for new regional elections, likely leading to even more social conflict.
Opposition Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez said he would "support the response of the rule of law in the face of any attempt to break social harmony", but stopped short of explicitly saying his party would back dissolving the regional parliament.
Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau advised Puigdemont against proclaiming independence on the basis of the referendum results and she urged Rajoy to rule out suspending Catalonia's autonomy.