MADRID (Reuters) - Catalonia’s ousted leader Carles Puigdemont agreed on Tuesday to a snap election called by Spain’s central government when it took control of the region to stop it breaking away, but he said the fight for independence would go on.
Below are several scenarios of what could happen in the next few days.
Puigdemont and his sacked cabinet have been ordered to testify before the Spanish High Court on Thursday and Friday after charges of rebellion, sedition and breach of trust were filed against them.
Under Spain’s legal system, a judge will then decide whether Puigdemont should go to jail pending a investigation that can sometimes take up to several years - and a potential trial.
Puigdemont traveled to Brussels after the Catalan regional parliament issued a unilateral declaration of independence on Friday, and it was not immediately clear whether he would heed the call to appear before the court.
He had said earlier on Tuesday he would return to Spain only when given unspecified “guarantees” by the Spanish government.
The same charges have been drawn up against the Catalan parliament’s speaker, Carme Forcadell, and other senior lawmakers but, given they have parliamentary immunity, they will testify before the Supreme Court, which is in charge of handling cases relating to lawmakers or members of the government.
Prosecutors have asked the courts to order Catalan secessionist leaders to deposit 6.2 million euros to cover potential liabilities but they have not sought preventive jail against them.
This could change however if Puigdemont and his associates did not show up at the High Court as the judge could deem them to be a flight risk and jail them.
It is not clear whether a snap regional election will resolve the crisis.
Two recent opinion polls showed support for independence may have started to wane.
But an official regional survey published on Tuesday showed some 48.7 percent of Catalans believe the region should be independent, up from 41.1 pct in June and the highest since December 2014.
Based on 1,338 interviews, the Centre d‘Estudis d‘Opinio poll was the first survey released since the independence declaration though the bulk of it was taken before then, between Oct. 16 and Oct. 29.
Other opinion polls have also shown Catalonia is almost evenly split between pro- and anti-independence supporters.
One key thing to watch will be if pro-independence parties run on a joint ticket or on separate platforms. If they ran separately, they could find it more difficult to reach a parliamentary majority.
They must say whether they intend to run together before Nov. 7 and then put forward their candidates by Nov. 18.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sacked Catalonia’s government including Puigdemont and his deputy Oriol Junqueras and assumed direct control over the region. Central government ministries assumed the powers of the Catalan administration until a regional election takes place on Dec. 21.
That unprecedented step was implemented smoothly and calls for civil disobedience were widely disregarded.
Reporting by Julien Toyer; editing by Mark Heinrich