News & Activism

Caught Red-Handed: Catalonia’s President Surrenders in Belgium

That didn't go according to plan.

Catalonia’s President Carles Puigdemont and four associates turned themselves in to Belgian authorities on Sunday, November 5. They had fled to Belgium and were pursued under orders from Spain who had issued a warrant for rebellion and sedition.

To review, Catalonia is the northeastern region of Spain held a referendum to secede from Spain at the beginning of October. This region includes prominent city Barcelona, and attempted to secede under grounds that it had a unique culture and language separate from Spain. Its status as a semi-autonomous community of Spain places it technically under control of Spanish officials, although Catalonia has its own parliament and police force.

So, they voted to secede. And you guessed it, Spain was not happy.

Spain decided to dismiss the Catalan president. And dismiss the Catalan Cabinet. And dissolve the Catalan Parliament. And fire the Catalan police chief.

This came after Catalonia went against Spain’s wishes and threats and voted to formally declare independence from Spain, prompting the national guard being sent in.

Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime Minister, has taken his stance on the matter calling for a new round of regional elections to replace the former government staff.

Only hours following Puigdemont himself into Belgian authorities, he was nominated by his constituents for this new election that will take place on December 21.

Puigdemont and his four other political companions were rumored to be detained in Belgium, but the residing investigative judge in Brussels ruled there is no valid reason for them to stay. They were released on the promise that they would attend their required court sessions within a two-week timeframe.

Spain is trying to force Puigdemont and the four other politicians back to Spain, but it looks like the former Catalan president and his companions are enjoying their time in Belgium. A change of scenery is probably welcomed considering their home in Catalonia is riddled with civil unrest.

Protests of all sorts are taking place in the streets. Separatist and anti-independence groups are speaking their minds, with pro-dialogue groups in the mix.

Although various statistics have circulated around, about 90 percent of Catalan voters voted for succession from Spain. However, some surveys state somewhere around 41 percent are for Catalan independence.

Polls have also shown that it is somewhat likely for separatist parties to win the election in December. But, they may not make enough seats in the parliament to bring back enough secession support.

If that works out, will it actually work out? How much damage can a semi-autonomous community do to an entire country?

It appears through the protest turn out that the Catalan independence campaign is losing steam. Could it all be just a trend or has Spain really gotten to the Catalans?

Nothing is for sure until the elections happen. We all know you can’t trust polls these days.

So now we wait for December 21.

Cover image via Times Israel

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Meghan is a twenty-year-old Communications and Political Science student...