Fact or Fake: Is Madrid staging a ‘coup d’état’ in Catalonia?

As Catalans descend on Brussels for a pro-independence rally on Thursday (7 December), EURACTIV’s Frédéric Simon goes over some of the claims made by their exiled leader, Carles Puigdemont.

‘Fact or Fake’ is a programme developed in partnership with France 24 as part of the weekly show Talking Europe.

Fact or Fake: Is Madrid staging a ‘coup d’état’ in Catalonia?

This is what the deposed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont stated earlier this month, slamming the European Union for backing what he described as a “coup d’état” by Madrid following the independence referendum in Catalonia.

Referring to the suspension of Catalonia’s self-rule, Mr Puigdemont called on the EU and Spanish authorities to accept the results of the referendum, which saw 92% of voters backing independence from Spain.

But the deposed Catalan leader did not mention some crucial detail. First, only 43% of registered voters took part in the referendum, and there was no minimum participation required to validate it.

International observers, in fact, did not recognise the outcome of the vote, undermining its legitimacy.

By organising a referendum on independence, Mr Puigdemont also claims to carry the will of a majority of the Catalan people who elected him in 2015.

However, this is in fact highly questionable. When regional elections took place two years ago, 52% of voters actually backed parties which were against independence from Spain. It is only thanks to alliances that secessionist parties managed to clinch a narrow majority in the Catalan parliament.

In such a context, accusing Madrid of staging a “coup” in Catalonia seems far-fetched at the very least.

In fact, if anyone actually attempted to stage a “coup d’état” in Spain, it is probably Mr Puigdemont himself.