[Ed. – The Catalan voters on Thursday elected a slate of regional leaders already under sanction: some jailed by Madrid, some exiled. Catalans fear a new wave of arrests. The political leader of the independence bid, still outside the country after fleeing in the wake of the earlier, unapproved election, wants to come back and negotiate, but so far Madrid is not budging. As I wrote two months ago, this is a tough problem. It’s easy to sympathize with the Catalans. But do we really live in a world in which there would be no significant ill effects from breaking up Spain — or other nations with longstanding, peacefully recognized territories and borders?]
The dramatic election in Catalonia on Thursday was supposed to draw a line under months of tension and division across the Spanish region over its future status. Instead it has opened a potentially damaging new division with suggestions that a fresh wave of arrests of Catalan nationalists may be unleashed.
Altogether, 19 of the elected candidates are either in prison, on bail or in exile, and face charges that carry up to 30 years in prison. Now the supreme court judge Pablo Llarena plans to issue writs against a further 11 people linked with the deposed Catalan government for their part in organising October’s referendum and fomenting secessionism. …
The legal assault on the secessionists began last March … Three members of [the Catalan] cabinet … faced fines of €5.2m (£4.6m), about €2m of which was raised by independence organisations Òmnium Cultural and the Asamblea Nacional Catalana… The ANC and Òmnium have also had to raise close to €1m in bail for activists and politicians, thus draining their resources and their ability to organise pro-independence rallies and other events.
In September, the late attorney general José Manuel Maza threatened to arrest 712 Catalan mayors who agreed that their facilities could be used in the banned 1 October referendum.