The referendum campaign was making very steady progress, with just the odd hiccup. Seven days into the campaign, every indicator was sending a clear message: Madrid’s provocations were having no effect, were not frightening off voters; quite the opposite, actually. Tracking polls hinted at an uptick in turnout and a widening Yes lead. In Madrid the figures sent shivers down spines. That is why the staged the coup.
The coup d’état was ready, it was their Plan B. It is so obvious that proving that much is dead easy. You cannot decide overnight to bring cruise ships to the ports of Barcelona and Tarragona, either to be used as floating quarters for police officers or as prisons, once again. Therefore, this must be part of a calculated plan, devised weeks or months ago: the occupation of Catalonia by means of a putsch against our institutions.
However, this coup entails very high risks for Spain. The first one is to know how they will manage the situation from now on. Amid the crisis, the Catalan authorities, with the strength afforded to them by the people rallying in the streets, have reacted with their usual calm level-headedness. The Catalan government has stood its ground and avoided responding in kind. What does Spain want? To impede the referendum. So, how should we react? By holding the referendum.
Rajoy showed his weakness in a pathetic public address where he claimed that the vote cannot go ahead anymore. Of course it can! If anything, he is the one with a problem: finding a way out of the mess he has created. We will see how they manage to ease the tension. Obviously, they have not won and we will vote on October 1, so their chances of upping the ante are slim.
Still, the greatest risk that they could possibly take is already behind them: yesterday was the day when Spain lost Catalonia for ever. Make a note of this date: September, 20 2017. And do realise that, no matter what happens next, with his coup Rajoy has destroyed any remote chance to prevent Catalan independence.