The First Minister of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, appeared to announce a declaration of independence in the Catalan Parliament on Tuesday, before immediately appearing to suspend it, leaving politicians and journalists across Spain wondering for several hours what he had really meant.

"Having reached this historic moment", he said: "and as the First Minister of the Catalan government, I assume, by presenting the results of the referendum before parliament and our fellow citizens, the mandate that Catalonia become an independent state in the form of a republic".

"That is what needs to be done today. Out of responsibility and out of respect."

"With the same solemnity, the government and myself propose Parliament suspend the effects of the declaration of independence so that over the next few weeks we might undertake a dialogue without which it is not possible to reach an agreed solution."

He said that: "Catalonia has won the right to be independent, to be listened to and to be respected".

With that, Spanish political leaders, journalists and talking heads descended into confusion about what Mr. Puigdemont had really meant. Had he or had he not declared the independence of Catalonia?

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias said he believed the Catalan First Minister had not declared the independence of Catalonia: "this is good news".


Spanish news agency EFE issued a lengthy wire lede: "The First Minister of the Catalan government, Carles Puigdemont, has today declared the independence of Catalonia in the Catalan Parliament after the October 1 referendum, which was suspended by the Constitutional Court, in application of the referendum law, also suspended, but has suspended its effects 'for dialogue'".

Justice Minister Rafael Catalá said the central government would wait until the end of the debate in the Catalan chamber to make a formal assessment but that it was not "valid".

"We cannot accept as valid a regulatory framework and a law that has been suspended by the Constitutional Court, we cannot accept as valid a referendum whose recount has been absolutely irregular and neither can we accept as valid a non-declaration of independence whose suspension is immediately requested, so there is a set of elements that at first glance we cannot accept as valid from what has happened today."

Grupo Planeta, a major Spanish media and publishing group, decided not to wait for a more precise definition of Mr. Puigdemont's remarks and announced it was moving its corporate HQ address from Barcelona to Madrid anyway, as dozens of others have done over the past few days.

Arran, a radical-left youth group, tweeted that the speech was "inadmissible treason".

CUP MP and spokeswoman Anna Gabriel told the chamber: "Today was the moment to proclaim the Catalan republic", suggesting Mr. Puigdemont had not declared the republic.

In the street outside, independence supporters were first elated and suddenly dejected as they listened to their First Minister. Ara reported many left in tears, shouting "this is a con!".

Catalonia now tops the list of "shortest-lived sovereign states" on Wikipedia, at 8 seconds.