Rajoy and Mas Struggling, And The ‘Wild Beast’ Awakening?
Spain’s fiscal crisis exposes deep regional fault lines - The Irish Times
Last week [Prime Minister Mariano] Rajoy rejected a demand from the Catalan nationalist first minister, Arturo Mas, for a new “fiscal pact” that would give the region full control of its own taxes. Mas then threatened early elections that could become a surrogate referendum on establishing a separate state.
And now Spain, on the left at least, is suddenly full of federalists, willing to contemplate the prospect of a new state structure that would give full recognition to Catalonia’s status as a nation, rather than face the nightmare of the break-up of Spain.
These sudden converts to radical constitutional reform include Felipe González, the very influential former prime minister for the Socialist Party (PSOE), and that party’s current leader, Alfredo Peréz Rubalcaba. One of Spain’s leading opinion formers, the founder and former editor of El País, Juan Luis Cebrián, warned Catalan nationalists at the weekend that they risked awakening “the wild beast” of right-wing Spanish nationalism. He predicted that Catalan independence would lead to poverty and misery for both Catalonia and Spain, and then also advocated a federal state as the solution. This proposal, however, is still anathema to most conservatives, so it is hard to see how it could attract the necessary consensus to gain national traction.
Meanwhile, the far right, which has so far found a curiously comfortable home within Rajoy’s conservative Partido Popular (PP), is reacting to the Catalan challenge with a rhetoric that suggests Cebrián’s “wild beast” is already wide awake and baring its teeth. For example, Martin Prieto, in La Razón, has accused Mas of “high treason”. He added with apparent regret that the Catalan leader “enjoys the advantage of knowing that in these times nobody in Spain gets executed”.