After bloody weekend crackdowns failed to prevent a referendum on Catalan independence, Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy is meeting with the leaders of Spain’s other major political parties, trying to unify the major factions in further anti-Catalan efforts.
Rajoy has presented the situation as a “pro-independence challenge,” but has also denied that any referendum actually took place. This argument is made on the grounds that the courts didn’t approve the vote, and that it therefore doesn’t count.
If the referendum really didn’t matter, however, Spain wouldn’t have cracked down on it so violently, wounding hundreds. Analysts see the violence that resulted from the police action as not unexpected, and suggest that Rajoy’s government full expected it to “get ugly.”
That they went ahead with a violent anti-democratic measure reflects both the government’s desperation to stop Catalonia from becoming independent, and that it was also intended to send a message about Spain’s willingness to use unreasonable amounts of force to get their way.
Which is a dangerous gamble, as they’re betting this will scare the Catalans away from the independence push. For many, however, it’s underscored their region’s need to get away from Spain irrespective of the risk.