6

Mariano Rajoy, the president of the government of Spain, said in Twitter:

We ask the Senate to remove the president from Generalitat [Catalan government] and its Govern Board in order to protect general interest.

Also explained for example in CNN: Catalonia crisis: Rajoy urges removal of region's leaders, new elections.

By removing all the government members (including its president Carles Puigdemont), taking over the public television (TV3) and police (Mossos d'Esquadra) the Spanish government removes the autonomy of Catalonia. This comes after days of uncertainty about whether the Catalan president declared independence or not (finally he said he did not).

According to many reports on the last days, Spain plans for elections as independence row grows and, indeed this is in the roadmap, as Mariano Rajoy also said:

First measure: elections in Catalonia when institutional normality is recovered.

The results of the referendum on October 1st reveal showed a 90% support with a turnout of 43%. If we extrapolate to the possible outcome of elections, it looks quite likely that the current results from the Catalan regional election, 2015 would be still quite equal, leading to a majority of pro-independence parties.

For this, I wonder: how come do Spanish unionist parties want so much new elections to be held, while the majority is likely to remain in the independentist parties?

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    Note that opponents of secession urged voters to not participate in the referendum, so as not to legitimize it. Plus, voting was obviously hindered by the central government. Therefore, it stands to reason that there is at least a possibility that the results are skewed, because more secessionists showed up to vote and only the more aggressive ones actually were able to. A general election may have a different outcome. (Then again, it may not.) – Jörg W Mittag Oct 21 '17 at 15:34
  • He said he won't allow independentist proposals this time – Whimusical Oct 28 '17 at 23:55
  • @Whimusical I hope and also don't think this is going to happen. However, back in 2009, in the Basque regional election left independentist parties were banned, so such situations happening would not be surprising. – fedorqui Oct 29 '17 at 13:15
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TL/DR: Invocation of article 155 is an extraordinary measure and almost everyone wants to keep it short. Elections offer a possible solution to it. There are some reasons to hope for a different electoral result but if electoral results are a repeat of 2015 the Spanish government can keep article 155 in place.


The main reason would be that it offers a (possible) exit from the invocation of the 155. Article 155 is intended as an extraordinary measure, to be used just as needed. And most analyses about it have been very explicit about the lack of experience meaning that there is no clear way to decide the proper way to do it. A newly elected Parlament offers a clear, definite milestone with an important degree of legitimacy and that most Spanish political parties may agree to.

Now:

It looks quite likely that the current results from the Catalan regional election, 2015 would be still quite equal

Well, this brings us to At those elections, JxSi & CUP together won 47.8% of the votes; that got them 72 seats out of 135 (majority at 68) but they were not the most voted option.

Those electoral results and recent events can give hope for1:

  • Even keeping those results, unitary lists by non-independentist parties would give them the majority.

  • Due to the actions of the current Catalan government polarization has increased. People will be more mobilized to vote2, and those who were opposed to the independence movement but wished not to vote may decide to vote now that there has been an actual attempt.

  • JxSi & CUP campaigned on "we declare independence, everyone in the world recognizes us, the EU says that we will stay in, the central government will just have to recognize us, profit!". Well, nothing of that has happened3. More in detail:

    • Absolutely no international recognition, backing of the Spanish government by the EU, and a clear message that the EU will not incorporate a unilaterally independent Catalonia.

    • Part of the idea was that business and economy would love and profit from independence, but it turned out that many business have elected to signal that they are not comfortable with the idea of an unilateral declaration of independence. While the actual economical impact of those moves may be low, it can worry many potential supporters. There are also reports of a slow down (up to 20%) in tourism bookings and some investments being delayed. That will not suit well some of the people who supported JxSi.

    • As the independence movement promised success, there was no issue breaking Spanish laws. But right now Spanish law is still in force, and there are judiciary investigations in place about possible felonies and crimes that could have happened. Some people may be charged. New MPs might take that into account and be more careful in the future. Lower level positions may be aware that they are even more at risk (no Parliamentary protection) if they obey illegal orders.

  • As it is said "Power wears people down, but not having power wears them down more"4. Faced with a lack of positive results from the expected plan, the drawing of new plans and objectives could lead to tensions between the more die-hard and the more moderate sector of the independentist movement surfacing. And in a new election, the only hope for each independentist party to grow is to steal votes from the other party.

And of course, the important point is that nobody in the Central government has said that new elections will automatically untrigger the 155. It could be very well that, if the new Parlament is a repeat of the current one, that the 155 is kept in order. It would certainly mean that one of the possible solutions to the crisis has been lost, and a great disappointment to the Spanish government, but it would not be a fatal blow.


1Let me state that again: those are things that can be hoped for. I am not claiming that they will happen, but I think they are reasonable.

2Although the participation in the 2015 elections was rather high (74.9%), it is still low when you compare with independence referendums in Scotland or Quebec, so if the election becomes a single issue one it could be expected to be higher.

3Well, some days they say independence has been declared, then the next day they say it has not been. So... maybe 50% of the first one?

4"El poder desgasta, pero el no tener poder desgasta más"

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    Well, this brings us to At those elections, JxSi & CUP added 47.8% of votes; that got them 72 seats out of 135 (majority at 68) but they were not the most voted option. - could you clarify this? – fedorqui Oct 21 '17 at 15:05
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    I meant that the advantage in numbers of the parties/MP that have acted towards an unilateral independence do not represent a solid majority of voters, making a change of the relative forces in Parlament easier than if, say, they represented 55% or 60% of the voters. – SJuan76 Oct 21 '17 at 19:18
  • OK, agreed. It is also important to note that polls show about 80% of people in Catalonia demand a referendum. Also, 47.8% of votes were for independentist parties, but the rest was not uniformly unionist: it included parties that would agree on a referendum (CSQP) and others that were ambiguous about it (Unió). Parties deciding to apply the article 155 (that is PP, PSOE and Cs) make 52 out of 135 seats. Clearly, CSQP would have the key in post elections. – fedorqui Oct 21 '17 at 22:27
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    I don't think the government can keep the 155 in place. When government passes on the measures to be approved by the senate, it loses the power to modify or rectify them. If theses measures say they end with elections in Catalonia, then they end whenever the elections are held. What the government can do is applying the 155 again if the newly elected catalan government is still adamant on declaring independence from Spain. – Rekesoft Oct 23 '17 at 7:33
  • @Rekesoft That is a good point, thank you. I also have read some info about the government explicityly including in their proposal the end of the measures by the new election, but I have had no time/source to include that in the answer. – SJuan76 Oct 23 '17 at 11:03
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Quite simple, the results of that "referendum" where not real since a lot of people was able to vote two, three, even more times. You can read about that here but there are more papers reporting about that, just google it. The so called "referendum" had no assurance thus the results are not to be trusted.

On the other side, legal elections with all assurances will give the real opinion of the people not just those oposed to the law that is in force.

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    Even though some cases could happen, I don't think this is relevant at all to the discussion. – fedorqui Oct 21 '17 at 20:04

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