Press review: Spanish media cover the ′Catalan republic′ | In Depth | DW | 28.10.2017
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Press review: Spanish media cover the 'Catalan republic'

In general, mainstream newspapers favored the central government's decision to revoke Catalonia's autonomy, though one wondered if the measures had gone far enough. Some press celebrated the new "Catalan republic."

The daily newspaper La Vanguardia, which blends moderate Catalan nationalism with centrist sensibilities, welcomed the announcement of regional elections after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy revoked the region's autonomy. "We applaud Rajoy for his decision," the paper wrote.

The newspaper also condemned Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, whom Rajoy ordered removed from office, for "unacceptably and repeatedly" ignoring the will of unionists who wished to stay part of Spain.

"We have said on several occasions that elections seemed to us the best solution to untangle the convoluted Catalan political situation," the newspaper wrote. "We continue affirming it."

Must read: Is Catalan independence a second coup in democratic Spain?

La Vanguardia also noted the historic nature of Friday's events. "It's difficult to imagine a more transcendental day, of greater and more decisive political intensity than yesterday," the paper wrote, noting the fact that central government's seizure of power over the region had come so swiftly after the legislature declared independence. "Catalonia, a land very prone in recent times to historic days, probably saw the most historic of all yesterday," La Vanguardia wrote.

Hello, Republic!

The Catalan-language newspaper El Punt Avui gave positive coverage to the declaration of a new Catalan republic. "Hola, Republica!" the front page trumpeted.

The newspaper, which began publication in Girona, the heartland of Catalonia's independence movement, noted that things would not be easy.

"We  face difficult days in which controlling the streets and the economy will be the key to the future of the new republic," an editorial read. "The EU and most of its member states, along with the US, have aligned themselves with the Spanish government." The newspaper noted that European Council President Donald Tusk had urged Spain's central  authorities to find a peaceful resolution.

El Punt Avui also espoused peace: "The defense of our institutions is crucial and must be carried out with the wisdom and the peaceful determination shown so far in the process of building the new country, establishing bridges of dialogue to normalize the situation and keep the country in the bounds of peace, civility and dignity."

'Many thanks, Catalonia'

Gara, a successor to the leftist Basque nationalist newspaper Egin, also splashed the proclamation of the Catalan republic on its front page. The paper displayed a large photo of celebrating Catalans and heralded the declaration of independence as a success.

Watch video 01:59

Catalonia says yes, Madrid says no

"The Catalan Republic has moved the frontiers of Europe, whether Europe and those who manage it like it or not; not only the physical borders but also the political ones, which mark the difference between justice and injustice, freedom and submission, democracy and totalitarianism," the paper wrote. "For all of this, many thanks Catalonia!"

Gara acknowledged that there could be trouble ahead.

"Everyone is aware of the severity of what is coming next," the newspaper wrote. "The Spanish state, its institutions and its establishment have declared war on the people of Catalonia. They are ruthless and merciless, bellicose and obtuse."

Independence activists in Barcelona

From all angles, Spanish media generally agreed that the future was uncertain

'Democracy will prevail'

The left-leaning national daily El Pais warned that the independence declaration had "unleashed the most serious constitutional crisis that Spanish democracy has faced in its 40 years of existence."

The newspaper accused the Catalan government of lacking the courage to call snap regional elections: "With the dissolution of parliament and the bringing forward of elections to December 21, Rajoy is doing what Puigdemont ought to have done but did not dare."

El Pais remained upbeat in its assessment of what would come.

"The state, because it acts in the name of citizens and democracy, can and must triumph in this task and must do so clearly and with full confidence in itself," the newspaper wrote. "On the path that it is now taking, there can be no room for doubt about the validity of the constitution and the future of coexistence."

Read more: An 'unknown disaster' looms in Catalonia's crisis

The government can count on the support of the European Union and "all citizens who want to continue living in a democracy that deserves such a name," the paper wrote.

"Spanish democracy, with the support of all, will prevail," El Pais proclaimed.

'Strength is needed'

The right-leaning national newspaper El Mundo's editorial pointed to the Catalan government's declaration of independence in October 1934 and the subsequent Spanish Civil War, charging that the regional government had failed to learn from history.

"On this occasion, a parliament hijacked by coup forces — and warned ad nauseam about the consequences of its actions — unilaterally declared independence and proclaimed the Catalan republic without looking back to check on the sanity and legality of such moves, or support for them from the outside," the paper wrote.

Read more: In Catalonia, language and identity go hand in hand

It went on to question Rajoy's decision to call elections in December without demonstratively exercising his wide-ranging powers under Article 155 to ensure the "full restoration of respect for the constitution."

"We do not hide our doubts about an uncertain electoral process," El Mundo wrote, urging measured force by the Spanish government. "It will need strength but, given the dimensions of the rebellion, that strength is legitimate," the paper wrote.

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