How will the attacks affect the Catalan sovereignty debate?

Worldwide media from the BBC to the Wall Street Journal take up the issue of how recent tragic events in Catalonia might influence the country’s push for independence


Police blocks upper part of Las Ramblas after massive run over by truck (Carlos Fernandez)
Police blocks upper part of Las Ramblas after massive run over by truck (Carlos Fernandez) / ACN

Guifré Jordan | Barcelona

August 23, 2017 05:42 PM

All the suspects in the Catalonia attacks are either in custody or dead. The grueling intensity of the past few days is now giving way to reflection on what the country has just gone through. There are a number of perspectives to be taken into account, including the integration of migrants, security coordination and preventing such incidents in the future.

However, it is hard to ignore that the events occurred only 45 days before a referendum on independence planned by the Catalan government. The Spanish authorities are adamantly against the vote, which turns the October 1 referendum into the largest source of conflict between Barcelona and Madrid in recent history. The question now is how the August 17 attacks and their aftermath may affect the tense debate on independence. The reactions of the Catalan police, the authorities in both Catalonia and Spain, and the media in Madrid, are all likely to have an impact.

‘Outpouring of real love for Catalonia’s police,’ says BBC

Media all over the world have analyzed the issue. “Could the attack become the wild card that gives the sovereignty game back to Madrid?” wonders the BBC. “Probably not,” is the answer in the article. “Among the most extraordinary sights of the past few days was the outpouring of real love for Catalonia's police,” adds the British public broadcaster. Some in Catalonia are already claiming that the Mossos’ reaction to the events is evidence that the country is ready for independence, the BBC points out.

“The investigation into the attacks, which killed 15 people, and the manhunt for its perpetrators have given the Catalan government an occasion to demonstrate its main argument: that it can govern independently of Madrid,” reflects The Wall Street Journal. According to the business-focused newspaper, the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, “has been the dominant public figure leading the response to the attack, overshadowing the role of the central State.”

Meanwhile, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung pointed out that “little Catalonia resolved a dangerous situation within a few days, almost like an independent state.” The German newspaper also said that the Catalan police chief, Josep Lluís Trapero, “[always] had the last word” when it came to informing the public about the investigation.