Published:  01:08 AM, 07 December 2017

Catalan crisis divides, cripples Spain's politics

Alvaro Villalobos

A 2018 budget that has still not been approved, a constitutional reform left hanging in the air... Far from a mere territorial issue, the Catalan crisis has also paralyzed Spanish politics as a whole.

The independence drive, which caused the country's biggest crisis in decades, has only added to the woes of a parliament already deeply fragmented as warring political parties make any agreement difficult.

This is going to be an exceptionally unproductive legislature, said Jose Fernandez Albertos, a researcher at the Spanish National Research Council. First and foremost, Spain's national budget for 2018.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative Popular Party (PP) and his allies -- centre-right Ciudadanos and lawmakers from the Canary Islands -- need the support of five MPs from the Basque Country's PNV nationalist party to see it through.

But the PNV has baulked at Madrid's imposition of direct rule on Catalonia after its regional parliament declared unilateral independence on October 27. So it has so far refused to give its support like it did last year, a position it is likely maintain until a regional election in Catalonia on December 21.

Then there is a Spanish territorial reform which is proving difficult to push ahead, even against the background of Catalan leaders wanting to break from the country.Spain is divided into 17 semi-autonomous regions, but some of them including Catalonia have grievances.


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