Posts Tagged ‘Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’

Catalan crisis has cost ‘a billion euros’ declares Spanish economy minister

January 2, 2018


Raigo Pajula, AFP | Spain’s minister of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, Luis de Guindos, at a meeting of the Eurozone economic and financial affairs ministers (ECOFIN) in Tallinn, Estonia, on September 16, 2017.


Latest update : 2018-01-02

Spain’s economy minister claimed Monday that the Catalan independence crisis had cost the country “a billion” euros as fallout from the turmoil continued to hamper growth in the wealthy region.

Luis de Guindos said slowdown in growth in Catalonia, which accounts to around a fifth of Spanish GDP, was hampering the eurozone’s fourth largest economy as a whole.

“Catalonia used to have growth above that of Spain, it was one of the drivers of the Spanish economy,” he told Spanish radio.

“However, in the fourth quarter, it’s become a burden.”

De Guindos estimated the crisis could “easily have cost a billion euros”.

Banned referendum

Spain was plunged into its deepest political crisis in decades when separatists in Catalonia’s regional government declared independence in October following a banned referendum on the topic.

Led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Madrid invoked powers provided for by Spain’s constitution to suspend the region’s cherished autonomy, sack its government and parliament, and call fresh regional elections in a bid to head off the secession drive.

But separatist parties won the most seats in the December 21 vote, and with the Catalan issue likely to drag on well into 2018 there are fears the crisis could hamper Spain’s recovery from the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

More than 3,100 companies have already moved their legal headquarters from Catalonia, including major banks and retail firms.

De Guindos blamed “enormous uncertainty, concern and a loss of confidence generated by the previous (Catalan) government”.



Catalonia Election Results a Stinging Defeat For Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy

December 22, 2017

Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy has said he is willing to talk with Catalonia’s new government after an electoral upset by separatists. Whether he is willing to meet with ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont is less clear.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (Reuters/S. Perez)

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Friday that he expects a “new era based on dialogue” with Catalonia’s new leaders after separatist parties won a parliamentary majority in Thursday’s key regional election.

Speaking at a press conference in Madrid, Rajoy said he was willing to speak with the region’s new leaders as long as they do not violate the Spanish Constitution.

He also ruled out the possibility of holding a new national election.

Infografik Catalonia‘s way to independence

The results of Thursday’s regional vote exposed the divide between the region’s citizens concerning the issue of independence. A coalition of secessionist parties won a narrow absolute majority in the Catalan regional parliament during the election. However, the single party with the most seats was the pro-Madrid Citizens party.

Read moreSpain warns EU of Russian meddling in Catalan separatist movement

Rajoy brushes off Puigdemont’s offer to meet

During Friday’s press conference, Rajoy sidestepped a question on whether he would be willing to take up an invitation from ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to meet following the election results.

“The person I should be meeting with is with the one who won the elections, and that is Mrs Arrimadas,” Rajoy said, referring to centrist, anti-independence candidate Ines Arrimadas of the pro-Spain Citizens party.

Puigdemont, who is in self-imposed exile in Brussels, offered earlier on Friday to meet with Rajoy outside of Spain to discuss Catalonia’s independence crisis. He added that it was time to repair the damage done by Madrid’s decision to take direct control of the region.

Read morePro-independence Catalans rally for jailed leaders in Barcelona

Puigdemont’s government held an independence referendum, despite it having been deemed illegal by Spanish courts. Voters who took part, less than half of those eligible, voted overwhelmingly for independence. However, politicians in Madrid and Barcelona had urged those opposing independence to ignore the ballot altogether.

Madrid stepped in after Catalan lawmakers declared independence, dismissing Puigdemont’s government and dissolving parliament using the contentious Article 155 of the country’s constitution. Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy later called the snap elections.

Read more — Spain’s Article 155: The constitution’s ‘nuclear option’

rs/msh   (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)


Ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont ready to meet PM ‘anywhere outside Spain’

Speaking from self-imposed exile in Brussels, Carles Puigdemont says he will return to Spain, but only if he receives guarantees.

Axed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, flanked by former Catalan Health minister Antoni Comin (L) and former Catalan Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food Meritxell Serret (R), reacts after the results of the regional elections in Catalonia at the Square - Brussels Meeting Centre in Brussels on December 21, 2017. Catalan separatists won a crucial snap poll on December 22, 2017, plunging their region into further uncertainty after a failed independence bid rattled Europe and t
Image:Mr Puigdemont’s party won the second largest number of seats

Disputed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has said he is ready to hold talks with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy anywhere in the EU other than Spain.

Speaking at a news conference in Brussels, where he fled into self-imposed exile after his government was sacked, Mr Pugidemont insisted he wants to be reinstated as Catalan leader.

And he confirmed he would return to Spain, if he was given guarantees by the government he could take up his position as head of a potential new Catalan government.

It comes after his Together for Catalonia party claimed 34 seats in the regional elections, which Mr Puigdemont said opened a “new era” for the autonomous region.

Mr Rajoy has refused to engage in dialogue with pro-independence leaders until they agree to limit their political goals within Spain’s constitution – which bans unilateral secession of any of the country’s 17 autonomous regions.

:: ‘Families are torn apart’ – Catalonia divided as voters go to the polls

People react to results in Catalonia's regional elections at a gathering of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) in Barcelona, Spain December 21, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Image:Turnout was predicted at 82%

Two other pro-independence parties won a combined 36 seats in the elections on Thursday.

That total gives separatists two more seats than the 68 needed for an absolute majority – ensuring that they retain control of Catalonia’s regional government.

Mr Puigdemont was the most voted candidate among separatists, and could be chosen to lead a new pro-independence coalition after negotiations with other parties.

Despite this, unionist party Citizens topped the poll and won 37 seats.

Video:Puigdemont: The Spanish state has been beaten

Catalonia went to the polls after its government was dissolved by Madrid, who deemed its declaration of independence in October “illegal”.

Mr Puigdemont said Thursday’s majority by separatist parties was a victory for the “Catalan republic” over the Spanish state, and said Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his allies “have lost”.

“This is a result which no one can dispute,” Mr Puigdemont told supporters in Brussels.

“I think we have earned our right to be listened to.”

:: Catalonia Independence: The political divide in Barcelona

Mr Puigdemont said it was “a slap” for the Spanish PM, adding: “Rajoy has lost the mandate he sought.”

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 29: Protesters wave Spanish flags during a pro-unity demonstration on October 29, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. Thousands of pro-unity protesters gather in Barcelona, two days after the Catalan Parliament voted to split from Spain. The Spanish government has responded by imposing direct rule and dissolving the Catalan parliament. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Video:Catalonia Independence: The view from Madrid

The leader of the pro-Spanish party that won the most votes promised her party will continue to fight the region’s separatists.

“The pro-secession forces can never again claim they speak for all of Catalonia,” Ines Arrimadas said.

“We are going to keep fighting for a peaceful co-existence, common sense and for a Catalonia for all Catalans.”

“Today we have sent a message to the world, that the majority of Catalans feel Catalan, Spanish and European and will continue to do so,” she added.

More from Catalonia

  • Catalonia election hasn’t eased the divides

  • As it happened: Ousted Catalan leader claims election victory

  • ‘Families are torn apart’ – Catalonia divided as voters go to the polls

  • Tight fight as Catalan election campaigning draws to an end

  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told to keep out of Catalonia crisis

  • Catalonia independence: What you need to know

European Union figures begin to react to the  – influential federalist MEP here👇– @KRLS has been hoping for EU support ever since he fled to Brussels. Still not getting it.

It is unclear what Mr Puigdemont’s next move will be, and Sky’s Europe Correspondent Mark Stone said the ousted leader is still at risk of being arrested when he returns to Spain.

“There is no longer an international arrest warrant out for him, but there is a domestic arrest warrant and up until the point of this election the Spanish authorities were clear that if he were to return to Spain, he would be arrested.”


Catalonia on knife-edge as pivotal elections loom

December 17, 2017


Ines Arrimadas, center-right party Ciudadanos (Citizens) candidate for the upcoming Catalan regional election, left, leader of Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera, center, and Jose Manuel Villegas attend a campaign meeting in L’Hospitalet del Llobregat on Sunday. (AFP)

BARCELONA: Catalonia is in the final stretch before pivotal elections Thursday that could determine the course of a secession crisis that has thrown Spain into turmoil and rattled the European Union.

It is a campaign where the star candidates are in exile or in jail and where pro- and anti-independence parties for the Dec. 21 polls are still neck-and-neck.
The upcoming vote has also been closely scrutinized in neighboring countries and the EU as a whole, with the bloc still reeling from Britain’s shock decision to leave.
“We have never seen so much interest from Spain or from the world in elections of a regional nature,” Narciso Michavila, head of the GAD3 polling firm, told the FAES think tank Friday.
In the polls Catalans will elect 135 lawmakers in the regional parliament, which has been dominated by pro-independence parties since 2015.
All eyes are on whether the three separatist parties will maintain their absolute majority, and if they do, whether they will make another bid to break from Spain after their first attempt failed.
The Catalan Parliament voted to declare unilateral independence on Oct. 27. But it was short-lived as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sacked the regional government, dissolved the assembly and called snap elections to try and nip separatism in the bud.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont promptly fled to Belgium knowing he would likely be charged for rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, while his deputy Oriol Junqueras remained in Spain, only to be jailed pending an investigation into the same charges.
As such, their campaigning has been surreal.
At the head of a list called Together for Catalonia, Puigdemont has campaigned from afar, using video appearances and social media.
Some 45,000 supporters even traveled to Belgium to see him on Dec. 7.
He claims the elections are the “second round” of an independence referendum held on Oct. 1 despite a court ban, in which Catalan leaders said 90 percent voted to break from Spain, although only 43 percent turned out in a vote marred by police brutality.
Junqueras, meanwhile, is behind bars but remains the chief candidate for his Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) party, which is favorite in many opinion polls.
The separatists’ campaign is centered on denouncing alleged rights violations and “repression” by the central government, but it is unclear what stance they will take if they win.
Some want to engineer another breakaway from Spain, while others say Catalonia is not ready and needs more time.
For their part, the parties that back staying with Spain accuse the separatists of damaging Catalonia, one of the country’s economic powerhouses.
“The harm has been done and it was very big,” Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said last week, pointing to a drop in tourism.
Ines Arrimadas, the head of center-right, anti-independence party Ciudadanos in Catalonia, has promised to bring Catalans back together by focusing on crucial issues such as unemployment, investment and tourism.
It is an argument that has drawn support from prominent European figures such as former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
Speaking at a campaign meeting Saturday alongside Arrimadas, he insisted “the future of Europe is at stake.”
“If Spain were to break up… then the future of Europe would collapse,” he said.
Opinion polls show ERC and Ciudadanos neck-and-neck as favorites to win the most seats.
Voters are highly mobilized, and a record turnout is expected.
But neither separatist nor pro-unity parties are predicted to get a decisive majority in parliament, which could lead to lengthy negotiations to form a regional government.
“Forming a government will be very complex, even if the pro-independence bloc wins the election,” said political analyst Pablo Simon.
Unlike elections in 2015 when they joined forces, ERC and Puigdemont’s PDeCAT party are running on separate tickets as rifts have emerged between them.
But opinion polls still suggest the most likely scenario is for a separatist coalition to remain in power in Catalonia, even if weakened.
And the elections could even lead to a surreal situation where an exiled or jailed Catalan leader is sworn in.


Sacked Catalan leaders get pride of place in electoral lists

November 18, 2017


© AFP | Carles Puigdemont (right) and Oriol Junqueras during a session of the Catalan parliament on October 26, 2017


Jailed and exiled figures from Catalonia’s separatist movement feature prominently in party lists unveiled by the region’s pro-independence factions, ahead of elections called for December 21.

Of the 14 members of the Catalan government who were dismissed by the central government in October, 12 are on the two main separatist lists, the “Together for Catalonia” group of sacked president Carles Puigdemont and the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), led by his vice president Oriol Junqueras.

Seven of the former officials, including Junqueras, are currently jailed pending an investigation into charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, while Puigdemont and four others are in Belgium fighting an extradition request filed by Spain.

Prosecutors in Brussels asked a judge Friday to extradite Puigdemont and the others, and a new hearing has been set for December 4.

But a final decision could still be months away, as both sides are expected to appeal if the judge rules against them, which means Puigdemont might be out of the country when the Catalonia vote is held.

Junqueras and the others being held may be released before the election.

Puigdemont presented on Twitter the lists backed by his conservative PDeCAT party, saying the candidates supported “independence, the republic and freedom”, as well as the restitution of the regional government and “a return of political prisoners and exiles”.

He had hoped to form a united separatist front for the new elections, as was the case in the region’s last elections in 2015, when the pro-independence camp secured a majority of 72 seats in the 135-seat parliament.

But the ERC rejected a joint ticket, and opinion polls suggest that while it is leading in the current campaign, which officially opens on December 5, the independence coalition as a whole could lose its absolute majority.

The polls indicate a tight race against the “Constitutionalist” bloc which favours Spanish unity, which includes Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party (PP), the centrist Ciudadanos and Catalonia’s Socialist party.

Madrid has imposed direct rule on the once semi-autonomous region since the independence declaration made after a banned referendum on October 1, and called the new elections in a bid to “restore normality”.

Regional authorities said 90 percent chose to split from Spain, though less than half of eligible voters turned out in a region deeply divided on independence.

Ousted Catalan leader unlikely to return to Spain to testify

November 1, 2017

By Paul Day


MADRID (Reuters) – A lawyer for dismissed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who is due to appear in a Spanish court this week to answer charges relating to Catalonia’s push for independence, said he was not expected to return to Spain soon.

Image result for Carles Puigdemont, photos

Sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont 

If Puigdemont fails to appear before the court, an arrest warrant could be issued that would in turn prevent him from standing in the snap regional election called by the Spanish government for Dec. 21.

Puigdemont and his government were sacked on Friday by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy hours after passing a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain through the regional parliament, a vote boycotted by the opposition and considered illegal by Spanish courts.

On Monday, Spain’s state prosecutor accused Puigdemont of rebellion and sedition for organizing an independence referendum held on Oct. 1 in defiance of the Madrid government.

Puigdemont traveled to Belgium at the weekend with other members of the dismissed Catalan administration and hired a lawyer. Although he appeared at a news conference in Brussels on Tuesday, his plans and next movements were unclear.

“He has not told me but as the situation now stands, I don’t see him going back to Spain in the coming weeks,” Puigdemont’s lawyer Paul Bekaert told Belgian state broadcaster VTM late on Tuesday.

Spain’s High Court has summoned Puigdemont and 13 other former members of the Catalan government to testify in Madrid on Thursday and Friday on charges of rebellion, sedition and breach of trust. A judge will then decide whether those called to testify should go to jail pending an investigation that could take up to several years and a potential trial.

Three former Catalan government advisors returned to Spain from Belgium late on Tuesday and were greeted at Barcelona’s international airport by crowds chanting “off to prison”.

Puigdemont and three others were not among those returning to Spain. He said on Tuesday he would only go back to Spain when given unspecified “guarantees” by the Spanish government.

Prosecutors have asked the courts to order the Catalan secessionist leaders to deposit 6.2 million euros to cover potential liabilities. However, if Puigdemont and his associates do not turn up this could change and, if considered a flight risk, they could be jailed pending trial.

Attention in the crisis over Catalonia is now turning to the December election, called by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy when Madrid took over control of the autonomous region.

Puigdemont said in Brussels on Tuesday he accepted the election and the Madrid government has said he is welcome to stand, even though the legal issue could prevent that.

Wednesday is a national holiday in Spain and government offices are closed, giving a brief respite in the crisis after a tumultuous month.

Reporting by Paul Day in Madrid and Foon Yun Chee in Brussels, Editing by Angus MacSwan and Janet Lawrence


Pro-unity march in heart of ‘independent’ Catalonia

October 29, 2017



© AFP / by Daniel Bosque with Mariette le Roux in Madrid | Bikers joined a pro-unity protest in Barcelona, waving Spanish flags

BARCELONA (AFP) – Pro-unity protesters gathered for a rally in Catalonia’s capital Barcelona on Sunday, two days after regional lawmakers voted to break away from Spain, plunging the country into an unprecedented political crisis.

As protesters gathered for the march, the deputy president of the region’s now-deposed government lashed out against Madrid over what he called a “coup d’etat”.

“The president of the country is and will remain Carles Puigdemont,” his deputy Oriol Junqueras wrote in Catalan newspaper El Punt Avui.

Junqueras used the word “country” to refer to Catalonia, whose lawmakers pushed Spain into uncharted waters Friday with a vote to declare the region independent.

“We cannot recognise the coup d’etat against Catalonia, nor any of the anti-democratic decisions that the PP (Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s ruling Popular Party) is adopting by remote control from Madrid,” Junqueras wrote.

He signed the article as the “vice president of the government of Catalonia”.

– ‘Viva Espana!’ –

The Catalan crisis was triggered by a banned independence referendum on October 1 that was shunned by many, and marred by police violence.

Then on Friday, Catalan lawmakers passed a motion, by 70 votes out of 135 in the secessionist-majority regional parliament, to declare the region of 7.5 million people independent from Spain.

Rajoy responded by deposing the regional government, dissolving its parliament, and calling December 21 elections to replace them.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, was temporarily put in charge of administering the rebel region.

As prosecutors prepared to file charges of rebellion against Puigdemont next week, he too was defiant on Saturday, calling for “democratic opposition” to Madrid’s power grab.

Puigdemont accused the central government of trampling on the will of independence-seeking Catalans with the first curtailment of regional autonomy since Francisco Franco’s brutal 1939-75 dictatorship.

Barcelona readied for Sunday’s anti-independence march under the slogan: “Catalonia is all of us!”

Television footage showed people streaming out of a metro station near the march, draped in Spanish flags.

The rally is due to kick off at noon near where tens of thousands of people celebrated the new “republic” with song, wine and fireworks just two days earlier.

“Viva Espana!” cried Sunday’s protesters, whose chant means “long live Spain”.

Participants at the rally will include representatives of three Catalan opposition parties — including Rajoy’s conservative PP, in what may amount to the start of an election campaign.

An opinion poll published in centre-right newspaper El Mundo Sunday said separatist parties would lose their majority in Catalonia’s regional parliament if elections were held today.

– Divided region –

Later on Sunday, Real Madrid football club will face Girona, Puigdemont’s favourite team, in the Catalan side’s home stadium, in a game that may see some of Spain’s divisions reflected in the stands.

It is the first visit by Real Madrid, Rajoy’s favourite team, to Catalonia since the referendum.

Roughly the size of Belgium, Catalonia accounts for about 16 percent of Spain’s population and attracts more tourists than anywhere else in the country.

It produces about a fifth of Spain’s economic output — equivalent to that of Portugal.

Before the upheaval, Catalonia enjoyed considerable autonomy, with control over education, healthcare and policing.

But while fiercely protective of their language, culture and autonomy, Catalans are divided on independence, according to polls.

Rajoy drew sweeping powers, approved by the senate, under a never-before-used constitutional article designed to rein in rebels among Spain’s 17 semi-autonomous regions.

He used these to axe Puigdemont, his deputy, regional ministers, heads of departments, and the chief of police in a move that angered some Catalans.

Far-left supporters of Puigdemont have threatened “mass civil disobedience” if Rajoy carries out the power grab, but have yet to announce any plans.

In Madrid, several thousand people gathered on the central Plaza Colon Saturday, waving the Spanish flag, and calling for Puigdemont to be jailed.

Spain enjoys the backing of the United States and allies in a secession-wary European Union still reeling from Britain’s decision to leave its fold.

Many fear the economic impact as the standoff drags on, with some 1,700 companies having moved their legal headquarters out of Catalonia so far.


by Daniel Bosque with Mariette le Roux in Madrid

Thousands rally in Madrid, urge jailing of deposed Catalan leader — Chanting “Prison for Puigdemont” — “Y viva Espana”

October 28, 2017


© AFP / by Marianne BARRIAUX | Spain is undergoing its worst constitutional crisis since its return to democracy in the 1970s

MADRID (AFP) – “Prison for Puigdemont,” shouted thousands of people in central Madrid, gathered under a giant Spanish flag Saturday in anger at Catalonia’s unilateral declaration of independence under secessionist leader Carles Puigdemont.

As music blared from giant speakers — from British band Coldplay to Spanish singer Manolo Escobar’s “Y viva Espana” (“And long live Spain” in Spanish) — pro-unity protesters banded together on the square.

Unhappy with Catalonia’s secession bid, many also directed anger at Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whom they accuse of having been too soft on the region’s separatist leaders.

“It is a disgrace what happened in Catalonia, and it’s a disgrace what happened after,” said Carlos Fernandez, a 41-year-old mining engineer.

On Friday, the Catalan parliament declared unilateral independence.

Rajoy replied by axing Puigdemont and his executive, dissolving parliament, and calling snap December 21 regional elections to quash what he termed an “escalation of disobedience.”

“Nothing is going to change in two months,” said Fernandez of Rajoy’s intervention, “it’s just prolonging the problem.”

Sitting on a concrete ledge clutching a large red and yellow national flag, he said he was disappointed at the low pro-unity turnout.

“It’s because of what the government said yesterday, many people think that it’s all solved,” he said.

Speeches began at midday.

“Today, we have all come to demonstrate our unity, to proclaim that we will get Catalonia back,” one presenter told the crowd.

To cheers and shouts of “prison for Puigdemont,” she added: “We won’t stop until we see them in jail.”

Spanish prosecutors have announced they will next week file charges of “rebellion” against Puigdemont — a crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Near the square, a large banner proclaiming: “Spain doesn’t surrender” hung from a building occupied by the far-right, xenophobic group Hogar Social.

People leant out of windows and cheered as dozens of protesters holding flags of the Spanish Legion, an army unit, and the small, far-right party National Democracy marched up, flanked by police.

Back on the square, Jorge Marin, a 38-year-old engineer, said: “In the end, this is going to come to nothing.”

“The Catalans aren’t serious, and we’re not serious, because they’re not really getting independence, and we’re not going to put them in prison for what they’re doing.”

by Marianne BARRIAUX
There is no alternative but for Catalonia to be ruled by Madrid, and declaring independence is political folly
Published: 16:35 October 28, 2017Gulf News

Spain has entered unchartered political waters after the restive region of Catalonia declared independence prior to the central government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, utilising powers granted to it under Article 155 of the nation’s Constitution, suspended the Catalan regional assembly. On October 1, the separatists held an illegal referendum on independence that was backed by more than 90 per cent of the 2.24 million in the region who cast their votes.

The referendum process itself was deeply flawed, having been declared illegal by Spain’s Constitutional Court and the Catalan High Court before voting day, and the Rajoy government used every avenue available to disrupt the vote. Undeterred by the prospect of fines and imprisonment, voters overwhelmingly opted for declaring the region around Spain’s second-largest city as independent. Over the past month, and against a backdrop of deteriorating relationships between the Madrid and Catalan governments, the separatists held back declaring independence until Friday afternoon, and then voted 70 to 10 in favour of the declaration when it became clear that the Madrid government, with the backing of both houses and the tacit support of King Felipe VI, was going to suspend the Catalan regional assembly and rule it from the capital.

Despite having held two referendums on independence over the past three years, and with large majorities in favour on both occasions, the reality is that the separatists possess mandates that are illegal and deeply flawed. Prior to the most recent illegal referendum, there was no campaign for staying in Spain, and the vote was ignored or boycotted by those against the proposed split.

Spain is made up of 17 different regions, each with a distinctive heritage and linguistic nuances, and there is no process, legal or otherwise, for any of those regions to go their own way. Pursuing independence or using the results of these plebiscites to break up Spain is not realistic and simply smacks of political opportunism. Spain is not divisible, and while the Catalonians might bask in their declaration, it is not recognised, has no legitimacy, and is simply a desperate move by those who have a political agenda that suits their own ends.

These are indeed worrying times, but there is a way forward. Both sides need to work out a political process that may result in greater powers for the region — but only within Spain. And fresh regional elections need to be held in the spring, with every voter casting ballots to ensure a new Catalan assembly is fully representative of all Spaniards.

Catalonia declares independence as Spain prepares to impose direct rule

October 27, 2017

Spain’s leader Mariano Rajoy immediately tweets to say the rule of law will be restored

By Jon Sharman

The Independent

Catalonia declared independence from Spain less than an hour before a vote in the country’s Senate gave Madrid the power to seize the region’s autonomous powers.

The vote in the regional parliament followed a tense week of last-ditch negotiations between Madrid and Barecelona. Seventy of 135 Catalan deputies voted for independence, with 10 opposed and two blank ballot slips.

Opposition lawmakers had walked out of the chamber ahead of Friday’s vote in protest.

Rounds of applause broke out in the chamber as members of the parliament hugged and shook hands.

Thousands of people watched the voting process and the counting live on big screens outside Catalonia’s parliament in Barcelona, and cheered and danced after the motion was passed.

The motion calls for beginning an independence process that includes drafting Catalonia’s new top laws and opening negotiations “on equal footing” with Spanish authorities to establish co-operation.

Pido tranquilidad a todos los españoles. El Estado de Derecho restaurará la legalidad en Cataluña. MR

On Thursday Catalan president Carles Puigdemont had ruled out calling a snap election, thought to have been a potential way of defusing tension with the central government.

Mr Puigdemont said he had not received sufficient guarantees that Madrid would hold off on its attempts to take control of the region.

Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, tweeted immediately after the vote calling for calm. He said the rule of law would be restored in Catalonia.

Spain’s senate voted on Friday, shortly after the Catalan independence vote, to trigger Article 155 of the constitution and allow the imposition of direct rule.

The vote will give Madrid the authority to govern Catalonia is the first direct intervention by central authorities in the affairs of one of the country’s 17 autonomous areas.

Mr Rajoy will have the power to sack Mr Puigdemont and his cabinet among other measures. Mr Rajoy is understood to be planning immediately to enact the Article 155 provisions during an urgent meeting on Friday afternoon.

The crisis stems from an independence referendum, held earlier this month, that Spanish judges had declared unconstitutional.

Before it went ahead Madrid authorities confiscated ballot papers and closed polling stations, with clashes erupting in the streets.

An overwhelming majority of those who did vote favoured secession, but turnout was low and there is a substantial section of the Catalan population that wants to remain a part of Spain.

Following Friday’s independence vote, European Council president Donald Tusk said “nothing changes” for the EU, adding it would continue only to deal with the Madrid government.

Mr Tusk urged Spain to favour “force of argument, not argument of force” in addressing the independence declaration.


Spanish PM Rajoy asks Senate for authority to depose Catalonian leader Puigdemont

October 27, 2017


© AFP file picture | Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (right) asked senators to depose Catalonia’s regional President Carles Puigdemont on October 27.


Latest update : 2017-10-27

Spain’s premier urged senators Friday to adopt radical measures to impose direct rule on rebel Catalonia and depose its president in a bid to halt the region’s independence bid.

Prime minister Mariano Rajoy asked parliament’s upper house, where his party holds a majority, to “proceed to the dismissal of the president of the Catalan government, his vice-president and all regional ministers.”

The senate is scheduled to vote later Friday on measures to depose Catalonia‘s secessionist government before the week is out, after the region held an unlawful independence referendum on October 1.

Senators gave Rajoy a standing ovation.

Many expect the region’s separatist leaders to push back with an independence declaration.

The Catalan parliament, where pro-secession parties hold sway, will meet in Barcelona where a proposal to vote on splitting from Spain could work its way onto the floor.

>>Article 155: Spain’s ‘nuclear option’ to stop Catalan independence

On Thursday, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont opted not to call elections for a new regional parliament — thought to be the only way to stave off Madrid’s imminent power grab.

Warning that seizure of control by the central government would escalate the crisis, he passed the buck to the regional parliament “to determine the consequences” of the threatened takeover — thus leaving the door open for a possible independence push.


Spain and Catalonia have been locked in a constitutional standoff since a “Yes” vote in the unregulated plebiscite which secessionist leaders hold up as a popular mandate for independence for the region of 7.5 million people.

Only about 43 percent of voters turned out, however, with many anti-secessionists staying away and others prevented from casting their ballot by Spanish police in a crackdown that turned violent.

>>Video: A Tango between Barcelona and Madrid

Based on the vote, Puigdemont threatened a declaration of independence, which Rajoy described Friday as “a challenge of unprecedented dimensions.”

Madrid has turned to Article 155 of the constitution — a never-before-used provision designed to rein in rebels among Spain’s 17 regions, which enjoy varying levels of autonomy.

Measures drawn up under the article are set to enter into force on Saturday, and will see the central government seek to temporarily take over Catalonia’s civil service, police, purse, and public broadcaster.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria insisted Thursday the government was “fulfilling a legal obligation, a democratic obligation and a political obligation,” by its actions.

But the move is likely to anger Catalans, fiercely protective of their autonomy, even if divided on independence.

Independence supporters are ready to fight back.

Albert Botran, a regional lawmaker for the far-left CUP party that backs Puigdemont and wants to split from Spain, vowed Friday to “make it difficult for the new, illegitimate government to get away with it.”

“The first action will be resistance,” he told Catalonia Radio.

‘Impatient’ to leave

Catalonia’s parliament met to discuss the issue late Thursday, where opposition lawmakers pleaded with Puigdemont to find a solution to the standoff closely watched by a European Union nervous wary of nationalist and secessionist sentiment, particularly after Britain’s dramatic decision to leave the bloc.

“You still have time to return to legality and call elections,” Ines Arrimadas, regional leader of the anti-independence Ciudadanos party, appealed.

Catalans are fiercely protective of their language, culture and autonomy — restored after the 1939-75 dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

Fears for Catalonia’s economy have increased as uncertainty persists over the independence drive, with some 1,600 companies having moved their legal headquarters out of the region in recent weeks.

Catalonia accounts for about 16 percent of Spain’s population and a fifth of its economic output.


Spain on tenterhooks ahead of Catalan crisis sessions — Regional parliament may actually take the step of declaring independence

October 27, 2017

The Associated Press

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Two crucial meetings were to take place Friday in Spain that could decide the short-term future of a country undergoing its worst political crisis in decades.

Catalonia’s parliament will resume debating its response to the Spanish government’s plans to strip away its regional powers to halt it pushing toward independence. But in Madrid, Spain’s Senate was meeting to approve the government’s plans and set the intervention in motion under constitutional powers.

The government’s proposals include removing the Catalan government’s regional leaders from office and curtailing the authority of the region’s parliament.

The Catalan government  rejects the move and there is speculation the regional parliament may actually take the step of declaring independence from Spain later Friday.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont faces what could be his last day in power by joining lawmakers to decide whether to defy Spanish laws with the declaration.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is expected to address the Senate meeting and defend his demand for the extraordinary powers.

It will be the first time in four decades of democratic rule that the Madrid-based national government would directly run the affairs of one of the 17 semi-autonomous regions, a move that will likely fan the flames of the Catalan revolt.

Rajoy says the measures are aimed at restoring order and has promised to call a new regional election once that is achieved.

Puigdemont scrapped hopes of a possible end to the political deadlock on Thursday when he opted not to call an early election himself and halt the drift toward independence.

The parliamentary sessions in Madrid and Barcelona are likely to last several hours before each votes on their resolutions.

Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party has an absolute majority in the Senate, thus guaranteeing the approval of his proposals. It will then be up to government to decide which and when to implement.

Catalonia represents a fifth of Spain’s gross domestic product. Polls show its 7.5 million inhabitants are roughly evenly divided over independence.


BBC News

Catalan crisis: Spain Senate to vote on emergency powers

Students with Catalan flags chanted “independence”.

The Spanish Senate is due to discuss a plan by the Madrid government to take over some of Catalonia’s autonomous powers, amid an escalating crisis over the region’s push for independence.

Earlier this month Catalonia held a disputed referendum on the issue.

The Senate is expected to pass the emergency measures, which include sacking the Catalan president.

Meanwhile the regional parliament has been debating a possible declaration of independence.

The debate began on Thursday, after Catalan President Carles Puigdemont failed to reveal a favoured course of action, and called on MPs to decide on a response.

Mr Puigdemont signed a declaration of independence following the 1 October vote, but immediately halted implementation and called for negotiations between Catalonia and the Spanish government.

The Catalan government said that of the 43% who took part in the referendum, 90% were in favour of independence.

However, the Constitutional Court ruled it was illegal.

Carles Puigdemont in parliament, 26 October
Carles Puigdemont (right) has been under pressure not to call a snap election. Reuters photo

How did Thursday’s debate unfold?

During Thursday’s Catalan parliamentary session, a government spokesman said a proposal to implement the results of a referendum on independence would be submitted to lawmakers on Friday.

Hard-line separatists continued their calls for an official declaration of independence.

“We will continue on the path to a Catalan republic,” an MP for the far-left CUP, which provides key support for the pro-independence governing coalition, said.

A Catalan government representative and a Spanish government minister fail to see eye to eye in a BBC interview

But Ines Arrimadas, leader of the anti-independence Citizens’s Party, accused Mr Puigdemont of missing countless opportunities to resolve the crisis through negotiation.

“You still have time to return to legality and call elections,” she said.

What will happen in the Spanish Senate on Friday?

The Senate is due to hold a vote on the government’s plan to trigger Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which empowers the government to take “all measures necessary to compel” a region in case of a crisis.

The article has never been used before.

Under the proposals announced by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy this week, Mr Puigdemont would be removed and new regional elections held. Madrid would take control of Catalonia’s finances, police and public media.

Mr Rajoy’s centre-right government has a majority in the Senate. The plan has also been approved by opposition parties.

Adding fuel to the fire

By Katya Adler, Europe Editor, BBC News in Barcelona

Article 155 of Spain’s 1978 constitution has never been used before in democratic Spain. And for good reason.

Spaniards call it their government’s “nuclear option”.

But on Friday the Spanish Senate is expected to vote in favour of triggering Article 155 and stripping the region of Catalonia of its autonomous powers.

The move is the only way, the Spanish government insists, to calm the Catalan crisis.

But Catalan leaders say such a move will simply add fuel to the fire – making it more likely that Friday will be the day that they officially declare an independent Catalan republic.

Friday’s front page headline of Spain’s Barcelona-based newspaper El Periodico tells the story. It reads: “Unilateral Declaration of Independence and Goodbye.”

More on the Catalan crisis

Catalonia in numbers

  • 16% of Spain’s population live in Catalonia, and it produces:
  • 25.6% of Spain’s exports
  • 19% of Spain’s GDP
  • 20.7% of foreign investment
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