The two main parties of government and the leading opposition in Belgium, N-VA (New Flemish Alliance), MR (Reformist Movement) and PS (Socialist Party), have expressed their opposition to the legal offensive by the Spanish government towards Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and his government. In the last few days, both the Flemish and the Walloon sides have rejected the path chosen by Mariano Rajoy's executive.
The Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, of MR, has repeatedly expressed his opposition to the judicialisation of politics and has expressed his support for finding a solution to the tension via dialogue and negotiation, even international mediation. Today, his Interior minister, Jan Jambon (N-VA), has said that "Madrid has gone too far" with the Catalan question, especially criticising the police attacks during the 1st October referendum. Jambon said that the Catalan people haven't done anything bad to merit the treatment they are receiving, saying that their politicians "have fulfilled a mandate they were given by their voters", a clear reference to the Parliament's vote to declare independence.
Also to comment this morning was the leader of the country's main opposition party and former prime minister Elio Di Rupo who accused Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy of behaving like an "authoritarian Francoist", and said he was against Carles Puigdemont being imprisoned in Belgium. "I fight against Puigdemont's politics, but I would be very shocked if the Belgian justice system were to put him in prison," he tweeted. According to Di Rupo, the Catalan president has "abused his position" but, while fighting the independence movement, "we [have to] remain democrats". "Let's recover a minimum of dignity", said the former prime minister, who only days ago asked Michel to explain their position towards Catalonia and Spain, warning that the country's "international credibility" was "at stake".
Je combats la politique de Puigdemont, mais je serais très choqué si la justice belge le mettait en prison.— Elio Di Rupo (@eliodirupo) 5 novembre 2017
Translation: I fight against Puigdemont's politics, but I would be very shocked if the Belgian justice system were to put him in prison
Retrouvons un minimum de dignité. Combattons l'indépendantisme, mais restons démocrates.— Elio Di Rupo (@eliodirupo) 5 novembre 2017
Let's recover a minimum of dignity. Let's fight the independence movement, but let's stay democrats.
Puigdemont a abusé de sa position mais Rajoy s'est comporté en franquiste autoritaire. Trouvons le chemin d'une Espagne davantage fédérale.— Elio Di Rupo (@eliodirupo) 5 novembre 2017
Puigdemont has abused his position but Rajoy has behaved like an authoritarian Francoist. Let's find the path to a more federal Spain.
Belgium and independence
For Belgian politics, the conflict between Catalonia and Spain isn't an easy question. Everything is due to the complex arithmetic of the parties in the Belgian Parliament and the government. In the current executive there are both supporters of Flemish independence and Francophone conservatives, a combination which has led to the Catalan issue becoming something of a taboo. That said, and despite the federal government agreeing to make no public statements on the Catalan president's situation, individual voices have been growing in intensity in recent days.