AS a Spaniard living in Bahrain, I’m concerned about my country.
Having voted for unilateral independence in a referendum last October and again for a slight parliamentary majority in favour of separation in December, Catalonia still inhabits a political limbo. It is ruled without concession from Madrid and its deposed president, Carles Puigdemont, lives in exile in Belgium while other members of his former administration are behind bars.
Spain’s calculation is that Puigdemont’s nerve will crack and that he will formally step down, allowing a regional Catalan government to take shape. It is gambling that the oxygen will be squeezed out of the separatist cause. Opinion polls suggest that might yet happen. Catalans are tired of the politicisation of everyday life and are nervous that investors will steer clear of their still-prosperous region. Reports indicate that some Catalan separatists may be ready to dump their leader.
Spain should allow Puigdemont and other leaders to return and enter a dialogue with the Madrid government and the other autonomous regions of Spain. The narrow majority for independence in the regional parliament suggests that there will be no immediate surge of support for a breakaway state. Madrid should take the risk and learn to talk more about pluralism than sedition.