Every rule is made to be broken. That was what red-faced national regulators discovered on Thursday morning in their ongoing attempts to get the Catalan regional government to take down its "political" yellow ribbon symbols. It needs to comply with a rule that guarantees the neutrality of public bodies ahead of forthcoming elections in Spain.
The Spanish electoral commission had said last week that the regional government, headed by Quim Torra, needed to remove them as the local authority has the role of overseeing fair play in upcoming municipal, Euro and national votes, and so cannot be seen to be taking sides. The yellow symbol is displayed by Catalan separatist supporters in protest over the detention and trial of some of its leaders and politicians.
After initial defiance, the regional president said he would only agree to an official Catalan body, not a national one, telling him to take them down. That job fell to the Catalan public ombudsman on Wednesday, who agreed with the electoral commission. Torra then said he would comply, although it was later claimed he had already known, before publicly asking the ombudsman last Friday, what the expert's decision was.
Spain waited on Thursday to see the removal of the yellow ribbon from the balcony of the seat of the regional government in Barcelona.
However, to people's surprise, Torra had found a way around his problem. The same banner with the yellow ribbon was swapped for an identical one but with the ribbon in white with a red brushstroke across it.
Opposition politicians accused the regional president of playing "cat and mouse" with the electoral commission and Spain waited to see if the new-look banner would be allowed to stay or not.