Think about it. The Catalan president would neither declare independence nor back away from it after the October 1 referendum.
Even when Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s government explicitly asked Barcelona this question some 10 days later – “have you or have you not declared independence” – the Catalan leadership hemmed and hawed.
Every week the Catalan president Carles Puigdemont (who looks a bit like an older southern European version of Frodo Baggins) would ask for dialogue. The Catalans, he constantly said, had “a mandate” to create a sovereign republic but a suspension of the independence effort was in order so there could be talks.
Each time, Mr Rajoy’s administration would bristle and raise itself to its full height, in the manner of an off-duty giant troll springing back into action. Then the Spanish government would huff and ask tough questions, and refuse to talk to the Catalans unless they totally abased themselves.
The unfortunate reality about the events of October 27 is that they needn’t have come to pass. On October 27, the Catalan parliament declared independence and the Spanish Senate authorized the government to take direct control of Catalonia.
This is an escalation and it opens up the possibility of a long spell of grievance-politics, forceful repression, violent fightback, and years of conflict.
It needn’t have happened.
That is the real tragedy.