The "smell of defeat - or worse, of embarrassment” has permeated the corridors of Spanish government according to Eurointelligence, one of the most respected information and analysis services in Brussels.
In its latest bulletin, the information service asserts that the Spanish executive has been forced to resort to “the last trick in the book” to prevent Carles Puigdemont from being the candidate for Catalan presidency at next Tuesday's investiture session in the Parliament of Catalonia.
The article's title is itself a declaration of intentions - “Destroying the constitution in order to save it” - and Eurointelligence proceeds to criticise Spanish PM Rajoy's “desperation” after he "lost the bet" on the Catalan election result in December, and now sees that the independence movement may be able to outwit his government.
Eurointelligence reviews the most recent actions by the Spanish government, saying that the executive is "unfazed" by the decision from Spain's supreme consultative body the Council of State, which refuses to question the validity of Puigdemont's candidature. The Spanish government “will ignore this opinion” and now plans to make use of article 161 of the Constitution - to “its own advantage”, says Eurointelligence. Under article 161, the government can buy time, by simply challenging any action of a regional administration. As long as the Constitutional Court agrees to consider the challenge, the action - in this case, the candidature of Puigdemont to the Catalan presidency - can be immediately suspended.
The review concludes that the Spanish government is “straining the constitution beyond the breaking point not for the first time” in a way that leaves constitutional law experts "flabbergasted" and speaking of a "constitutional fraud".