How to stop Catalonia's aspirations for independence at the roots? The new leader of Spain's PP, Pablo Casado, believes he has the key, as he announced in Barcelona this afternoon after a meeting of the party's executive committee. His solution so that nothing that happened last year should ever again threaten the unity of Spain is to add non-violent sedition and organising an illegal referendum as crimes in the Penal Code. He announced this will be the very first bill he puts forward in the Congress. Indeed, in a speech on Saturday to the party conference that would elect him leader, he already said he would undertake a "reconquest" of Catalonia if he won the leadership contest.
@pablocasado_: "La primera iniciativa parlamentaria va a ser un Proyecto de Ley para que se incorpore al Código Penal el delito de sedición impropia y el delito de convocatoria ilegal de referéndum". pic.twitter.com/QDSVeLPqCU— Partido Popular (@PPopular) 26 de juliol de 2018
Casado said that "there will be no kind of rupture in Catalonia" because they will instigate the "necessary defensive measures so that that stuff from last year doesn't happen again". He said the PP will fight "until the ire ends" in Catalonia and that the party will have a "greater presence in Barcelona".
On that subject, he said the "PP has returned to Catalonia to stay", advocating a "project of concord" to include negotiations with Catalonia as long as independence isn't discussed. "Outside the law is the jungle", he said, whilst "within the law bridges can be built".
The return of article 155
Casado was critical of the current PSOE government's approach to the "secessionist challenge", warning that "if Sánchez's government doesn't limit the independence challenge, we'll have to remind them that the Constitution can be obeyed again".
One of the strategies being considered is to "offer PSC [PSOE in Catalonia] a hand in fighting the independence movement", because together, he believes, they can put an end to the situation. He repeatedly said that "if [Catalan independence supporters] persist in their illegality, the PP will call again for [article] 155". Article 155 is the article of the Spanish Constitution the then PP government used to suspend Catalan autonomy last year and fire Catalonia's government.
Noting that within a month it will be a year since the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, Casado said: "I won't allow them to treat us like a foreign government like in the demonstration for the attacks". That said, for the first anniversary commemorations, his party will no longer be in government.