Read in Catalan

Major German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung has published a report that is highly critical of the way the Spanish government is handling the conflict with Catalonia. Under the title "Madrid must finally reach out to the separatists", the newspaper takes Madrid to task for its approach to the independence process, in an article published following yesterday's decision by the Spanish Supreme Court to imprison the former speaker of the Catalan Parliament and four ex-ministers

"The ruthless actions of Madrid's political leaders are not worthy of a democracy and they are radicalizing young Catalans," warns the daily, the second largest newspaper in Germany, and the key reference for the Bavarian economic elite.

According to the article, the strategy of the pro-independence parties has "collapsed", in reference to the failure of the far-left CUP to fall into line with the other parties in the sovereignist block. But the report is critical of the fact that, given this situation, the Spanish powers have chosen to take a path of repression. "The attempt to dismantle a democratic mass movement through prison sentences and ruinous fines has led to the radicalization of some Catalans, especially the young," says the author. In his opinion, the judicial proceedings "which have been denounced by recognised Spanish law professors as a violation of the law, should end up with soft sentences being granted."

The newspaper sees a clear democratic deficit in Spain. "The ruthless repression by the judiciary against pacifist politicians who have been legitimized by free elections is not worthy of a democracy," it says, and adds that among the options Spain could place on the table, are the cancellation of prison sentences and the use of disqualifications from holding office.

Felipe VI

The newspaper suggests that Spanish king Felipe VI should take advantage of the fact that the "risk" of independence now seems to have waned to make "conciliatory gestures" and tackle territorial tax reform. "The collective memory of Catalans is still determined by the repression of the Franco regime. And Rajoy, and undoubtedly Felipe VI, whose father was a Francoist, should now get closer to the Catalans," adds the writer. He also calls for other EU countries to pressure Spain behind the scenes to bring about this reconciliation.