Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s decision to invoke article 155 of the constitution has opened another, more turbulent chapter of the Catalan crisis. The tone between Madrid and Barcelona has taken a decidedly hostile and personal turn, and a swift diplomatic resolution of the matter appears more unlikely than ever.

„A further escalation of the Catalan crisis would create a risk to employees, assets and business interests of companies in Catalonia.“

The Looming Threat of Article 155

The unprecedented use of article 155 of the Spanish constitution has paved the way for yet another escalation. Rajoy has indicated that the first major steps would be to dissolve the Catalan government, seize control of the Catalan police force and call snap regional elections within six months. The equally aggressive response from Catalan separatists is giving rise to fears that any proceedings on part of the Spanish government will be met with the passive resistance of local institutions and possibly spark violent reactions.

Uncertainty at New Heights

The current showdown has brought uncertainty in Catalonia and Spain to a new level. Recent events have shown that protests and the deployment of Spanish security forces have gained a potential for violence that can impact on uninvolved bystanders. But the reaction of the local security forces to the announced measures may be an additional source of unrest. The Catalan police force has so far been divided regarding the actions of Madrid. Strike measures or, in a worst-case scenario, active resistance of the local police would significantly contribute to a deterioration of security, entailing a considerable risk to employees, assets and business interests of companies in Catalonia.