In Carles Puigdemont's New Year speech, the acting Catalan president highlighted the values of the Catalan republic. His message, delivered from Brussels, where he and four ministers of his government are in exile, was a challenge to the intransigence of Mariano Rajoy and a call for Catalans to celebrate republican values: liberty, equality and fraternity.
It is certain that the speech will irritate many people in Madrid, who imagined the period after the Catalan election would have a different context and different protagonists. A circumstance that has not been produced at the ballot box and still depends, however, on what is yet to happen in the political and judicial offices. And on the other hand, what is happening now is that the president dismissed by Rajoy and who has the numbers to be re-elected by the Catalan Parliament has declared that Catalonia consists of a "democratically mature" people, "that have earned the right to make themselves into a republic of free men and women".
Puigdemont invites Rajoy to accept the results, the victory of the pro-independence parties and he summons him to negotiate without further delay. He points to Rajoy as being responsible for having deceived EU leaders with a commitment that has not been fulfilled, which consisted of putting an end to the independence movement by Christmas. And he demands that Rajoy repair the damage caused, since the ballot boxes have now spoken.
A final note: this is the first time since the 1977 restoration of the Generalitat, the institution of Catalan government, when president in exile Josep Tarradellas returned, that the president of Catalonia has not been able to deliver a New Year address to Catalans from the seat of government itself, the Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona. This is not a small thing, not just a footnote: the damage done by article 155 will not be solved for months. The Spanish state knew what it was doing with an initiative that was not constitutional, even if it has been presented as such and has been endorsed by the chambers of the Spanish parliament.
The result of the Catalan election demands a new era, dialogue and negotiation. That is what Catalans have shown they want.