Disappointing and worrying. It is difficult to use any other words that better describe the speech of King Felipe VI on Tuesday 3rd October, in view of the situation created in Catalonia after the referendum held on Sunday, and the brutal repressive action of the Spanish police and Civil Guard in several cities and towns of Catalonia, that left a trail of 900 citizens needing medical assistance. Disappointing that the Crown has renounced any arbitration role at all to find a solution to the conflict, has directed his televised message only to the unionist minority that exists in Catalonia, and has not shown the slightest empathy towards the citizens who suffered 48 hours of police violence. And worrying because it has given the green light to whatever measure that the Spanish government or the Constitutional Court adopts from now. From the suspension of autonomy to the arrest of the Catalan president and his government. Whatever action will have the blessing of Felipe VI from now on. The King signed a blank cheque to Mariano Rajoy, on television, and with lights and stenographers, and it is not the first time it has been done ... although until now all have finished badly.
Not even an appeal for dialogue or negotiation. No possibility of accepting an international mediator as proposed by president Puigdemont and endorsed, for example, by the Financial Times, putting the issue as a central headline on its front page. Not even the slightest indication that the echo of some of the most important demonstrations that have taken place across Catalonia during the whole day, flooding the most symbolic city and town squares with citizens, had even reached the royal palace of Zarzuela. Has nobody been able to transmit to the head of state that the Catalan uprising will only stop at a negotiating table, and not with the use of force? Felipe VI not only ignored the majority of Catalan society, but placed it outside of the law. The only Catalans that he explicitly sent an affectionate message to were those who are against the Catalan government of president Puigdemont and the parliamentary majority of Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) and of the CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy) - "that they are not alone, nor will they be, and that they have the support and the solidarity of the rest of the Spaniards". End of the message.
It is very probable that the royal speech precipitates events here and from there. In either case, the Catalan government will not change its plans at this time, and if there was any chance that this was the case, the speech of Felipe VI does nothing but close that path. But it will be necessary to listen to Puigdemont and Junqueras to certify it. For lovers of comparisons, the step made by Felipe VI has nothing to do with that of his father on the occasion of the coup d'état in 1981. Juan Carlos I rescued the pro-Franco monarchy on that 23rd February and gave it a patina of legitimacy which it did not have. His son has broken ties with Catalonia, he has stood against its institutions, he has disregarded a growing part of Spain that wanted an agreement about the referendum represented by Podemos (We Can) and its convergence, and precipitated the debate in Spain about Monarchy or Republic. The King, the head of state, in that year 1981, represented the great majority of Spaniards; today, only a part of them and a minority of Catalans.
Mariano Rajoy has burned another card, the King, in a desperate stroke that will be profusely applauded in Madrid, but that time will prove to be a leap into thin air. Because in this game there are still many hands left to play: apply article 155, suspend Puigdemont and the Catalan government, or stop them before the weekend. Because behind Puigdemont there are many Puigdemonts today, and even if they want to erase all traces of the current leaders with the force of repression, the current Catalan social majority will not only not evaporate, but its strength will become immeasurable for the Spanish state.