Just a few days before we are to be informed of the Supreme Court verdicts on the Catalan political prisoners - the most distant date of the options considered for the announcement is that of Monday 14th, the eve of the anniversary of the execution of former Catalan president Lluís Companys in the castle of Montjuïc, in 1940 - the Spanish state is beginning to grease its machinery to respond to what will, undoubtedly, be the news story of the year. And one that, depending on what ends up happening, will impact not just on political life, but also will produce an effect that will be felt for a very long time in one way or another.
There is a tense calm both among the Catalan government and the Parliament of Catalonia. And frenetic activity in some of the official institutions in Madrid. The Spanish general election has been called for 10th November by Pedro Sánchez to coincide with the verdicts, but what is intended as a master stroke - to allow him to ride the wave of strong Spanish state action against the Catalan independence movement - could end up having unforeseen consequences which could work against the Socialists (PSOE). The truth is that the only beneficiary of Sánchez's electoral initiative, according to the polls, is the opposition Popular Party (PP).
For this reason, the PSOE is desperately trying to present itself to the sector of voters in the Spanish centre who are disenchanted with Ciudadanos (Cs) as its best alternative, instead of the PP. But to this part of the "deep" Spain electorate, Sánchez is seen as having been unreliable throughout the Catalan conflict. He needs to make new gestures every day in order to become credible to these voters. And every day the news channels have been opening their programmes with initiatives by the Spanish executive against the political and social majority of Catalonia. On Friday we saw two: a Spanish cabinet accord against several resolutions passed by the Catalan Parliament - in defence of the right to self-determination and reprimanding king Felipe VI before the Constitutional Court. And, above all, the Spanish executive's request to that same court that it warn the Catalan Parliament's speaker and governing board of the consequences of ignoring such advice and evading it in the future, directly or indirectly. The purpose of the note to the Constitutional Court is to block the Catalan chamber from making initiatives which, in practice, are nothing more than ideological positionings by political formations and are part of the exercise of freedom of expression. It is obvious that it is not seen this way by the court, which wants to have as much control as possible over the responses that may appear from the Catalan institutions.
The second initiative from the Spanish government's Moncloa palace is connected with an international campaign by the state PR unit, Global Spain, which will be coordinated through 215 embassies, praising the democratic values of Spain. It will take more than just a two-minute video entitled Democracy in Motion to improve the international image of Spain and put paid to accusations that the state is curtailing freedoms and persecuting the Catalan independence movement. A state which has to talk constantly about how well its democracy works is, at the very least, under observation. The countries in our neighbourhood do not usually conduct such activities, but rather, dedicate their public resources to things of greater interest, not to cheap propaganda to discredit the Catalan independence movement.