MEXICO CITY – The political crisis in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia may amount to nothing more than a temporary shock to the Catalan and Spanish economies, while regional parliamentary elections in December can help stabilize the situation, the chief executive officer of Spain’s fourth-biggest lender said on Thursday.
“I want to believe it’s going to be a temporary shock. And once elections have been held, the electoral results will lead to some type of solution that stabilizes the situation,” Banco Sabadell CEO Jaime Guardiola said at a press conference in Mexico City.
During the unveiling of a plan to offer fully online personal banking in Mexico, Guardiola said he was hopeful that after the Dec. 21 elections a kind of stability is achieved that ensures there is no lasting “structural effect.”
Catalan authorities on Oct. 27 unilaterally declared independence from Spain, a move that came less than a month after they had organized an illegal independence referendum.
Spain’s central government responded by invoking Article 155 of the constitution and rescinding Catalonia’s regional autonomy.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dismissed Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and his Cabinet, dissolved the Catalan Parliament and called regional elections for Dec. 21.
Puigdemont, who faces various charges related to the secessionist campaign, is now in Belgium while awaiting a judge’s decision on whether or not to extradite him to Spain.
Guardiola also referred to the bank’s decision to move its legal headquarters from Barcelona to the southeastern Spanish city of Alicante to “protect the interests of our customers, shareholders and employees” amid the political turmoil in Catalonia.
The transition process was seamless and normality was restored almost immediately, he said, adding that the change in legal domicile was not a short-term decision.
Referring to the economic impact of the independence crisis in Catalonia, Guardiola said it would be minimal in 2017 both regionally and nationally.
For 2018, he predicted a 0.3-percentage-point drop in the Spanish growth forecast – from 2.8 percent to 2.5 percent.