Five years of 155

This Thursday, October 27, marks the fifth anniversary of the unilateral declaration of independence (DUI) in the Parliament and the application of article 155 of the Constitution by the Government of Mariano Rajoy, an event to which the independence movement arrives more divided than ever and with differing opinions about what that act entailed.

The vote and the police charges of 1-O raised the tension in Catalonia during October 2017 with successive mobilizations for and against independence and with the borderline confrontation between the Generalitat presided over by Carles Puigdemont and the central government.

Despite the fact that on October 10 Puigdemont announced the declaration of independence but suspended it after a few seconds to give room for dialogue, the following weeks did not serve to unblock the situation: the procedures to apply 155 began and the independence movement focused on deciding whether to call elections or break with the state.

After days of meetings, attempts at mediation and pressure from different sectors, together with warnings of the risk that declaring independence would provoke a flight of Catalan companies to other territories, on October 26 Puigdemont was determined to call elections but the facts that were unleashed that day ended up causing a turn in his decision.

There are many interpretations that have been made since then as to why he finally chose to declare independence: Puigdemont argued that the Government did not give guarantees that it would not apply 155 if elections were called, while other versions attribute it to pressure from ERC - -he warned that he would leave the Government if there was no DUI-- and the well-known tweet of the Republican spokesman in Congress, Gabriel Rufián, who said "155 silver coins", in a veiled accusation of the president of being a traitor to independence.

DUI in the preamble

Thus, on Friday morning, October 27, JxSi and the CUP brought to the plenary session of the Parliament a proposal for a resolution that urged the Government to issue all the necessary resolutions to found the Catalan republic and that in the preamble included the declaration of independence that the deputies from these groups had signed on October 10 in a Chamber room.

The proposed resolution, which was voted on in secret, was approved with 70 votes in favor, 10 against and 2 blank among the groups that participated in the vote (JxSí, CUP and SíQueEsPot), since the rest of the formations (Cs, PSC and PP) left the hemicycle as a sign of proposal.

The then president of the Chamber, Carme Forcadell, was in charge of reading the declaration of independence but neither Puigdemont nor the vice president of the Generalitat, Oriol Junqueras, nor any other leader intervened in that plenary session, something that has been criticized later and that has been interpreted as a gesture that already indicated that they had no will to apply that DUI.

In fact, the resolution was not officially published in the Official Gazette of the Parliament (Bopc) or in the Official Gazette of the Generalitat (Dogc) and the Government did not promote any measure to apply independence.

Shortly after the Parliament proclaimed the DUI, the Senate approved the application of 155 and Rajoy announced the dismissal of the entire Government and the calling of elections in Catalonia on December 21 of that year.

After the weekend with practically no public activity by the Government, on Monday Puigdemont announced that he was in Brussels along with other ministers, and on Thursday Junqueras, Josep Rull, Jordi Turull, Carles Mundó, Raül Romeva, Joaquim Forn, Dolors Bassa and Santi Vila appeared before the National High Court and were imprisoned, while the Government initiated the intervention of the Catalan autonomy.

Five years

Five years after these events, the independence movement is more divided than ever due to the inability to weave a joint strategy and the lack of consensus on what October 2017 and the declaration of independence meant, which actors such as Junts and ANC claim and defend. that should be applied, while others such as ERC have distanced themselves from unilateralism and have opted for dialogue with the Government.

The maximum expression of this division has recently come with the breakdown of the alliance between ERC and Junts, which was the protagonist of the DUI since they formed the coalition of the Government and the JxSi group in 2017, and which have continued to govern together until three weeks ago.

In addition, the judicial consequences of 1-O and the declaration of independence are still dragging on: there are still pro-independence leaders abroad who left to avoid appearing before the Supreme Court and there are dozens of former high-ranking charges pending trial.

Precisely for this reason, the Generalitat and the Government are negotiating at the dialogue table the reform of the crime of sedition in the Penal Code, among other measures that include dejudicialization of the conflict and that should bear fruit before the end of the year.

For now, few details have emerged of what legislative reforms could be promoted to advance in this direction, but the ERC's objective is to achieve "the effects of an amnesty" and that the leaders abroad can return to Catalonia and those who are awaiting trial don't go to jail.

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