I understand all the reasons why Spain does not wish to test a populist vote on Catalonia. A separatist yes vote would also open the Basque question once more and Spain would end up a damaged rump state.
However in a globalised world of interdependence, especially in Europe separatism is really just a word meaning very little. Catalonia as a state would be very dependent on the rest of Europe including Madrid in the same way it is now. It may possess the trappings of a separate state but in practice it would end there.
Spain had an opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of Europe that it has moved on from it’s past and joined the family of democratic pluralist nations, willing to tolerate dissent and listen to all it’s people.
They blew it. 🙁