The severe words which Catalonia's Carles Puigdemont directed at Spanish king Felip VI after the latter's unfortunate speech on October 3rd, in which he accused the independence movement of causing fracture and division in Catalan society, has generated a colossal distance between the Spanish head of state and the Catalan institutions. Both the legitimate insititutions, such as the Catalan government and the Parliament, dissolved unexpectedly by the application of article 155, and those that are still in operation - basically the town councils and the provincial administrations.
The king erred in that speech, making a mistaken interpretation of his constitutional role, either going astray or allowing himself to be led astray by the Spanish government. One of those responsible for that fiasco, Jorge Moragas, is to leave Madrid hastily in the next days after leaving his post as prime minister Mariano Rajoy's chief of staff.
From Brussels, Carles Puigdemont has invited the king to rectify his earlier statements in the Christmas speech which the monarch will deliver this Sunday night. The maxim that "The king reigns but does not govern" was shattered in that address of 3rd October in which he only satisfied the conservative forces in society. He endorsed the Spanish government and he crossed a red line, the one that places him above the executive and grants him a role as an arbitrator.
Although no gestures towards change can be discerned in Spanish politics, the new Catalan legislature's clock is already ticking. The pro-independence majority in the Catalan Parliament persists and a government will materialize within weeks. For Spain's leaders to take the line that they have not been informed of the result of the Catalan elections simply because they did not like that result must be satisfying for the political hooligans, but it doesn't solve anything.
Carles Puigdemont expects a gesture, but the reality is that, from Madrid, at least in public, nobody has congratulated him. And nobody has called him either. Sending him best wishes is not essential, but without even the phone call, a return journey by Puigdemont in the style of that taken by Catalan president Josep Tarradellas when he returned from exile in 1977 is impossible. We will see if anybody has the courage to say in public what, for the time being, they only dare to mouth privately.