It has been a hectic day for Spain where moments ago separatist Catalonia appeared to step back from the brink of officially declaring independence - with potentially dire consequences - even as Puigdemont asked for a mandate to delare indpendence for Catalonia but proposed to suspend the result of the referendum vote "for weeks", in an attempt to achieve dialogue with the Spanish government "to arrive at an agreed solution to advance with the demands of the people of Catalonia."
"With the results of October 1, Catalonia has won the right to be an independent state," Puigdemont said. "If everyone acts responsibly, the conflict can be resolved with calm."
As Bloomberg summarized the speech, "it sounds like Catalan President Puigdemont is trying to catch Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at his own game. Rajoy has always said he won’t talk as long as the Catalan government is acting outside the Spanish Constitution’s framework. Puigdemont is basically saying -- fine let’s do that -- but if doesn’t go our way we’ll resume with our plans."
The question then was how the Spanish central government would respond, which it did when it appears to have purposefully misinterpreted Puigdemont speech, declaring that "Catalonia has declared deferred independence" and, as El Pais reports, "Central government sources say they consider Puigdemont's speech to be a declaration of independence" with a press officer for the Rajoy cabinet telling Bloomberg that "it’s not acceptable to make an implicit declaration of independence and then explicitly leave it hanging." adding that Puigdemont “has taken his irresponsibility to the absolute extreme by ignoring the laws, citizens.”
As a result, "the Rajoy government will take measures, and is expected to apply Article 155 of the Constitution."
That, as readers are aware by now, is the so-called "nuclear option", one which would entail Spain seizing control of the separatist province, potentially leading to even more violence and even more demands for independence.