Secessionist drive goes down a gear as sides focus on election

Puigdemont's lawyer speaks to the press in Brussels.
Puigdemont's lawyer speaks to the press in Brussels. / EFE
  • Two weeks after the declaration of the Catalan republic, separatist parties are admitting that they sought independence too hastily

  • A Belgian judge has put off the decision on Puigdemont's extradition until 4 December

Just over two weeks after the Catalan parliament declared the republic of Catalonia, the separatist parties are starting to admit that the region was not ready for independence.

The politicians behind the independence process, which kicked off with the illegal referendum on 1 October, are now engrossed in how they are going to approach the upcoming regional election on 21 December.

Having agreed to go their separate ways and stand as individual parties, candidates are turning to more realistic objectives.

ERC, the Catalan Republican Left party, admitted this week that “mistakes have been made” and that they have been “naïve”. These words came in a letter to party members from its leader, Oriol Junqueras, formerly vice-president of the regional government, who is still in prison along with another seven former ministers.

In the same letter, Junqueras named Marta Rovira as the republican party's candidate to lead the regional government.

This time, though, the pre-election period is showing no signs of the hurry for independence that featured in the campaign of the previous poll.

The “18 month” deadlines announced by the pro-independence coalition in the previous campaign and slogans such as “we're in a hurry” have been deleted from the script.

The PDeCAT, the party headed by former president Carles Puigdemont, has also criticised its own haste. “Fast-track independence doesn't exist,” said the party's coordinator Marta Pascal, this week.

Puigdemont, meanwhile, is still in Belgium, along with four former Catalan ministers, where they await a decision on whether they are to be extradited to Spain to be questioned regarding accusations of rebellion and sedition as well as embezzlement.

At a hearing on Friday a Belgian judge decided to put off the decision until 4 December.