It was the only thing that he could really do. Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, had a single ace in his hand, international public opinion, and he played his card well on Tuesday night, putting independence on hold so that dialogue could take place with Madrid. If he had declared independence, like many commentators had predicted, Madrid would have moved and it would have been thank you and goodnight for Catalan independence; Puigdemont and other members of his government team could have been arrested.

By calling for dialogue, Puigdemont has attempted to show that he is serious about a breakaway and is willing to negotiate. The Spanish government, which had completely mishandled the Catalan situation until last week, will now come under pressure to actually sit down and have some dialogue with the Catalans. The government, which has finally got its act together, has plenty of aces in its hand and that is one of the reasons why Prime Minister Rajoy asked whether Puigdemont had declared independence. If this is the case, then he can remove home rule from Catalonia and impose direct rule from Madrid.

So it is now a waiting game. The Catalans are basically playing for time, hoping that international public opinion will come to their rescue. This is unlikely because the majority of countries are backing the Spanish government. It was a clever move by Puigdemont, but it was probably the only move he could have made.