Balance of Power: The Crowd Controls the Catalan Process Now

Catalan Independence Vote Proposed in Parliament

When the crowd outside your office is chanting “traitor,’’ it starts to look a lot like a mob.

That’s what confronted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont yesterday when news filtered out that he was planning to call yet another regional election instead of declaring independence from Spain. And that may have been what persuaded him to think again.

As anger coursed through the streets of Barcelona and reverberated across social media, the president failed to show. Twice his statements were delayed as he huddled with his allies inside the government’s Gothic palace. The choices were stark: Go down in a blaze of glory and risk jail, or bend the knee and face the mob.

When he appeared, hours later, he said Madrid’s determination to shut down his rebel administration had turned him against elections. Hemmed in on all sides, he punted the decision on what to do next to the regional parliament.

That's left Catalonia on a knife's edge. Activists have called on supporters to rally outside the regional parliament this morning, promising them that the Catalan Republic is at hand. Lawmakers are due to convene at noon for a session that could see them vote on a declaration of independence after all.

Puigdemont stand aside. It’s the crowd that is driving the Catalan process now.

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Students wave Catalan pro-independence flags outside the regional government offices on Oct. 26, 2017. 
Photographer: Guillem Sartorio/Bloomberg

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