Spain’s prime minister on Wednesday asked the head of the secession-minded Catalonia region the question that no one can seem to answer: Did he declare independence or not? The query reflected more than just confusion. Clarity on Catalonia’s position is critical for Spain to map out its next move — including possible harsh measures against Catalonia if it proclaims itself a sovereign nation. The uncertainty comes after the region’s president, Carles Puigdemont, told the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona on Tuesday that Catalonia had the right to be an independent country, citing a disputed referendum last week that showed strong support for secession from Spain. But instead of an outright declaration, Puigdemont said the “effect” of independence would be delayed for several weeks to facilitate further dialogue with Madrid. He then signed a document that some perceived as formalizing a break from Spain, baffling observers in Barcelona and Madrid alike.
On Wednesday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy accused Puigdemont of sowing “deliberate confusion.” He also asked the Catalan leader to clarify his position.
“This call — before any of the measures that the government may adopt under Article 155 of our constitution — seeks to offer citizens the clarity and security that a question of such importance requires,” Rajoy said in a speech.
Article 155 of Spain’s constitution, known as the “nuclear option,” allows Madrid to suspend Catalonia’s devolved government and take over running the region should it declare independence.