Both Artur Mas and Alex Salmond must be musing today on that eternal politician's refrain; how much simpler politics would be without the voters. Scotland's independence movement has highly committed and driven politicians but an indifferent public, whilst in Catalonia the reverse is true. Artur Mas has coupled his CIU party to the popular surge for independence for electoral advantage, only to find that he is riding a tiger. The Catalonians want a referendum now on independence, but Snr Mas will only commit today (post result) to 'consult' them sometime during the next four years.
Doubts amongst the voters about Artur Mas' real commitment to Catalun independence cost him twelve seats; the votes going to the left-wing ERC, strongly pushing a separatist Catalonia, who won twenty-one seats. We now face the prospect of a militant and angry public out on the streets of Barcelona pushing a reluctant Artur Mas and his CIU to give them a referendum sooner rather than later, with the ERC inside the 135-seat assembly holding daggers to his kidneys for the same end. Awkward buggers, voters.
Tigers have a habit of eating those who ride them, and the red and yellow stripes of this one may yet turn on Mas is he doesn't heed this electoral warning. Caught between the Scylla of voter passion and the Charybdis of Madrid's intransigence the formerly moderate Snr Mas, who originally wanted only more autonomy within a Spanish federation, may regret ever pushing the independence button for electoral advantage.