Last week, parties representing nearly two-thirds of Catalonia’s parliament called a referendum on independence, tilting Spain towards full-blooded constitutional conflict – just as the Spanish economy shows signs of starting to emerge from its crisis.
It did not have to be this way. Politicians from both sides of this widening abyss need to become statesmen to prevent what is at root a political issue becoming a problem that threatens the very state.
Artur Mas, the mainstream nationalist Catalan president, has caught the government of Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, off-balance by forging an alliance with separatists and elements of the Catalan left. They have set a date for a plebiscite next November, which will ask Catalans two questions: do they want Catalonia to be a state and, if so, do they want that state to be independent from Spain. In this palpable fudge lie the ingredients for a solution…
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