When the Parliament of Catalonia passed its motion censuring King Felip VI and became the first legislative chamber to issue such a rejection of a monarch, we commented on the significance of the step that had been taken. The king's speech to the Spanish public just after last year's independence referendum on October 3rd produced an irreversible emotional rupture that can only be widened if the crown continues making mistakes. Today, 80% of Catalan citizens give the king a 'fail' rating, a percentage that is so exceptionally high that it would be difficult for it to occur so clearly anywhere else. We also point out what an error it would be from the Spanish government if this debate were to be amplified with grandiose gestures which would in no way improve the image of the monarchy in Catalonia.
Well, then. The Spanish government has done the opposite of what good sense would have advised and has decided to appeal the Catalan Parliament's resolution to the Constitutional Court. This, despite the fact that a body so submissive to Spanish governments - and so discredited - as Spain's Council of State has said in its report that there was no basis for an appeal because it was a political declaration. But of course, Pedro Sánchez was afraid, with the Andalusian elections just around the corner, of being labelled as not Spanish enough and of abandoning Felipe VI to face the storm of criticism.
In the coming weeks, the Spanish government will see the enormous mistake it has made: beyond what the Constitutional Court says, it has now opened a huge chasm, almost inviting Catalan municipal councils to pass motions against the king of Spain and in favour of the abolition of the monarchy. This Friday just past, the city of Barcelona passed such a motion. Of 41 councillors, 29 voted in favour and only 12 supported the king. In percentage terms, less than 30% of Barcelona's elected representatives stood beside the monarch. A serious problem for Spain at a time when the monarchy already has serious difficulties in the Basque Country, the Balearic Islands, and Navarra.
The belligerence that Felipe VI let loose against the independence movement is a huge burden for him to bear. Even if Madrid is doing everything possible to reduce it or to ignore it. Without recognizing the errors that are at the origin of the current situation, the discredit that clings to him will carry on snowballing.