It is surely not beyond the wit of Catalans and Spaniards to work out a form of amicable association that both can live with

The imposition of direct rule in Catalonia is, at best, a stopgap measure that will do little to resolve, and may seriously aggravate, the long-standing problem of the region’s troubled and rivalrous relationship with Madrid. Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s prime minister, says that, in the end, he had no choice but to take the “nuclear option” of sacking Catalonia’s government and placing himself and his ministers in charge. But while his actions may calm the situation in the short term – and the tense days to come will be determine whether that is the case – Rajoy has set a time bomb ticking that could ultimately explode in his face.

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