There was no room for surprise: Spanish unionists of left and right objected against the Catalan Independence Act and voted their objections. Then all 62 MPs of Convergence and Union (CiU), as a single person, voted abstention. Due to the fact that unionist MPs are more than independentists, and CiU is the biggest group, its abstention stopped Independence Act and the debate did not even start. Independentists said they will try again.
There has been speculation about why CiU admitted the Act to the legislative process, knowing they were to stop it at some point. An hypothesis is that they intended to use independentism to style themselves in front of the Spanish State as a bulwark against the breakdown of Spain. However, Spanish government is far from seeing an independentist threat. For instance socialist PM Mr Zapatero dismissed 257 thousand yes vote to independence in Barcelona last April 10th. That’s more than the 180 thousand who voted the current major of the city, but he doesn’t need to be bothered: the former was an unofficial referendum and the latter were regular elections.
This episode shows how independentism remains unable to decisive political action, even if the debt stand-off with the Spanish government is one of the reasons that has made it grow. Catalans pay a high cost for its political weakness in front of the Spanish government, regardless of their political beliefs. Although it has made three quarters of all the debt, the central government sells to the world the story of budgetary undiscipline in Catalonia, the most plundered region.
Moderate nationalists of CiU now in power keep a growingly difficult balancing act: from one hand, they make the right nationalist gestures to calm the growing anger of the population. Here deserves to be considered the fact that debt of the “undisciplined” Catalans amounts roughly to just two years of tax revenues not returned by the central government. And so CiU leaders vote yes to independence in unofficial referendums.
But, from the other hand, they refuse real political action and find themselves forced to negotiate with the State in the weaker position. Meanwhile Catalan government has to sell bonds to its own citizens, just to keep going.