Posts Tagged ‘Puigdemont’

Puigdemont to appear before German judge as protests erupt in Catalonia

March 26, 2018

Afp

© Lluis Gene, AFP | Protesters hold a yellow ribbon with a picture of Catalonia’s deposed leader Carles Puigdemont while waving Catalan pro-independence Estelada flags during a demonstration in Barcelona on March 25, 2018.

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2018-03-26

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is to appear in court Monday following his arrest in Germany which triggered a wave of protests in Catalonia where thousands of separatists faced off with police.

German police arrested Puigdemont on Sunday, after he crossed the border from Denmark, under a European warrant issued by Spain.

The arrest comes five months after Puigdemont went on the run as Spanish prosecutors sought to charge him with sedition and rebellion in the wake of a vote by the Catalan parliament to declare independence.

According to his lawyer Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, he was on his way to Belgium, where he had initially fled after Spanish authorities moved to impose direct rule over Catalonia.

Puigdemont will be brought before a German judge on Monday to confirm his identity. A court will then decide if he is to remain in custody pending extradition proceedings.

Calling the situation “very delicate”, Alonso-Cuevillas told Catalonia’s Rac1 radio it was “very likely that he will not be allowed to leave Germany”.

Julian Assange @JulianAssange

In 1940 the elected president of Catalonia, Lluís Companys, was captured by the Gestapo, at the request of Spain, delivered to them and executed. Today, German police have arrested the elected president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, at the request of Spain, to be extradited.

22:10 – 25 Mar 2018

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Clashes erupted as protesters took to the streets in Catalonia on Sunday following his arrest.

Catalan police decked out in riot gear shoved and hit demonstrators with batons to keep the crowd from advancing on the office of the Spanish government’s representative in Barcelona, the capital of the wealthy northeastern region.

Officers fired warning shots in the air to try to contain the demonstrators, who pushed large recycling containers towards police. Some people threw glass bottles, cans and eggs at police.

Some 90 people were slightly injured during the protests in Barcelona, including 22 police officers, emergency services said.

Another seven people were injured at a protest in Lleida, about 150 kilometres west of Barcelona and one person was injured in Tarragona to the south.

It is the latest chapter in a secession saga that has bitterly divided Catalans and triggered Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.

‘Not the end’

“It angers us that they arrested Puigdemont, he is our highest representative,” 22-year-old architecture student Judit Carapena told AFP at the protest.

Spain’s central government should not “sing victory because it is not the end of separatism, far from it”, she added.

Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent appealed for calm in an address broadcast on regional television.

“I have no doubt that Catalan society will act as it always has, with non-violence,” he said.

Aside from Puigdemont, nine other Catalan separatist leaders are in jail in Spain over the region’s failed bid for independence.

Puigdemont’s arrest comes two days after Spain’s supreme court issued international arrest warrants for 13 Catalan separatists including Puigdemont and his nominated successor Jordi Turull.

The court said they would be prosecuted for “rebellion”, a charge which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Twelve more face less serious charges like disobedience.

Issuing the warrant for Puigdemont on Friday, Judge Pablo Llarena accused the ousted Catalan leader of organising an independence referendum in October last year despite a ban from Madrid.

Puigdemont had been visiting Finland since Thursday, but slipped out of the Nordic country before Finnish police could detain him.

While separatist parties won Catalonia’s regional elections in December called by Madrid, they have been unable to elect a president and form a government as they have picked candidates who are now either in exile, in jail or facing prosecution.

After Puigdemont was forced to withdraw his bid for the presidency as he could not return to Spain without facing arrest, another pro-independence leader Jordi Sanchez followed suit when a judge refused to let him out of jail to be sworn in. The third candidate, Turull, was placed in custody on Friday.

Fresh regional elections will be triggered if a new leader is not elected by May 22.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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Catalan separatists face reality check after leader Carles Puigdemont’s detention in Germany

March 26, 2018

BLOOMBERG

Image may contain: 3 people, text and outdoor

 A pro-independence demonstrator holds a poster with of a photo of Carles Puigdemont, the deposed leader of Catalonia’s pro-independence party, during a protest in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday. | AP

Carles Puigdemont’s removal from Catalonia’s political scene to a German jail forces the separatist movement to make a decision: keep bickering on the way ahead, or set aside differences and form a regional government.

The former Catalan president’s detention in Germany on Sunday was hailed by anti-separatist forces as a decisive blow against the push for Catalan independence. In a boost for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Puigdemont now exits the political stage, at least for now, and is unable to influence events in Barcelona.

 

Yet pending Puigdemont’s return to Spain, the risk is his detention will act as the catalyst needed to pressure sparring separatist camps into unity three months after regional elections.

“It’s time to build a common front to defend individual and collective rights and liberties,” Roger Torrent, the speaker of the Catalan parliament, said on Twitter in response to Puigdemont’s arrest.

Spain is struggling to move on from the events of late last year when the force of separatist sentiment in Catalonia ran into the rock of the central government in Madrid’s refusal to let Puigdemont’s attempt to split the region from Spain succeed. Protests on the streets of Barcelona on Sunday were a reminder that the wounds are far from healed.

“At first sight, it all looks such a mess,” said Caroline Gray, lecturer at Aston University in the U.K. who specializes in nationalist movements. “But the fact is that political life goes on and Catalonia still needs a government.”

Puigdemont was held by German highway police on Sunday near the Danish border after attending a weekend event in Finland. He has been living in exile in Brussels since October, when Rajoy used emergency powers to sack the Catalan president and disband his government after his attempt to declare a republic, an act in breach of Spain’s constitution.

While Madrid went about restoring Spain’s constitutional order in Catalonia, judges began a crackdown that culminated in a Supreme Court judge declaring on Friday that Puigdemont and other separatist leaders would face prosecution for rebellion.

It was another blow to the secessionist campaign that has been in limbo since separatist parties emerged with a narrow majority in December’s regional elections. With Puigdemont in self-exile and other leaders abroad or in jail, they have so far failed to form a government.

An attempt to elect as president Jordi Turull, the spokesman of Puigdemont’s former government, failed last week when the radical separatist party CUP abstained from voting for him. Turull was himself jailed on remand on Friday, forcing the Catalan parliament to abandon a second attempt to hold a vote to make him president.

Attention will now focus on how Catalan and Spanish political forces respond to Puigdemont’s detention, said Gray. One outcome could be the CUP deputies being forced to rethink their decision to abstain. Eyes will also be on the Catalunya en Comu platform linked to the anti-austerity party Podemos to see if they might support efforts to elect a government, she said.

Puigdemont’s detention is a “big hit” for the separatist movement because he has been central to its narrative in recent months, said Pablo Simon, a political science professor at Carlos III University in Madrid. Even so, it may also help to focus their energies on ensuring a new government is formed, he said.

To be sure, not everyone is convinced that Puigdemont’s detention changes things much.

“In the short term, it will lead to calls for the separatist movement to be more united,” said Antonio Barroso, a political risk analyst at Teneo Intelligence in London. “In the end though, the internal divisions are there and I don’t think they’re going to disappear.”

Catalonia’s deadlocked politics have implications across the Spanish political spectrum. The tough legal crackdown on separatism sits badly with the Basque nationalists whose votes Rajoy’s minority government needs to pass a budget and other important legislation. That friction may mean that a regional government in Catalonia ultimately helps Rajoy’s case with the Basques.

The Catalan crisis has meanwhile helped Ciudadanos, the pro-Spain force that won the most votes of any party in the regional elections, vault over Rajoy’s People’s Party to take the lead in national opinion polls. Its leader Albert Rivera celebrated Puigdemont’s detention Sunday in a tweet that said “the flight of the coup-monger is finished.”

Puigdemont candidate for Catalan president as Spain seeks arrest

January 22, 2018

AFP

© Scanpix/AFP / by Daniel Bosque with Helene Dauschy in Copenhagen | Spanish prosecutors on Monday sought a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont as he arrived in Copenhagen in his first trip outside of Belgium since he fled to the country.

BARCELONA (AFP) – The speaker of the Catalan parliament on Monday proposed the region’s ousted leader Carles Puigdemont as president of Catalonia, as Spanish prosecutors sought a European warrant for his arrest.Roger Torrent said Puigdemont’s candidacy to once again head Catalonia’s regional government is “absolutely legitimate”, even though the secessionist leader faces criminal proceedings over his role in Catalonia’s independence drive.

In a major blow to the central government in Madrid, separatist parties once again won an absolute majority in the Catalan regional parliament in a snap election in December.

Puigdemont wants to be invested from Belgium, where he fled in late October after the Catalan parliament voted to declare independence. He now faces arrest if he returns to Catalonia over his role in the independence drive.

The Madrid government has ruled out his being allowed to rule from outside the country and even his separatist allies — the leftwing ERC party of Puigdemont’s former deputy Oriol Junqueras — are cool in private to his bid to rule from abroad.

Spanish prosecutors on Monday sought a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont as he arrived in Copenhagen in his first trip outside of Belgium since he fled to the country.

The prosecution service asked Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena to re-issue an arrest warrant for the secessionist leader, sacked by Madrid after the Catalan parliament declared independence, and urge Denmark to hand him over, a judicial source said.

Llarena had dropped a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont and four of his deputies who fled to Belgium in early December, saying it would complicate the overall probe into the region’s leaders — but warned they would be arrested if they return.

He is not obliged to agree to the request to re-issue the warrant.

Puigdemont and the rest of his ousted government have been charged with rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds over their separatist push.

Danish broadcaster TV2 released an image on its website of Puigdemont being surrounded by reporters after his plane landed in Copenhagen Airport.

On his Twitter feed, Puigdemont confirmed his arrival in the Danish capital, where he is due to take part in a debate at the University of Copenhagen about the secession crisis in the region later on Monday.

– ‘Illegal’ –

Three other separatist lawmakers are already in custody in Spain over their role in Catalonia’s separatist push, including Junqueras, his former deputy.

The parliamentary vote to choose a new Catalan leader is due to take place by the end of January.

The Catalan parliament’s legal experts have said that any presidential contender has to be physically present, but Puigdemont insists he has the legitimate mandate of the people to rule.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reiterated Saturday that governing Catalonia from abroad would be “illegal” and has warned Madrid would maintain its direct control over the region and will take the matter to court if Puigdemont sought remote rule.

Madrid’s direct rule has proven very unpopular in a region that had enjoyed considerable autonomy before its leaders attempted to break away from Spain.

Catalonia’s separatist push has sparked Spain’s biggest constitutional crisis since the country returned to democracy following the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco in 1975 and has deeply worried the country’s EU partners.

Having been in Belgium for three months without a residence permit, he would also have to leave, albeit briefly, to conform with EU residence laws.

by Daniel Bosque with Helene Dauschy in Copenhagen

After Catalan Voters Embrace Independence — Puigdemont offers to meet Spain’s PM outside Spain

December 22, 2017

 

Axed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont gives a press conference in Brussels on Friday, Dec.22, 2017. (AFP)

BRUSSELS: Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on Friday offered to meet Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy outside Spain for talks on the region’s independence crisis, a day after separatists won a parliamentary majority in snap polls.

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Puigdemont was speaking to reporters in Brussels, where he fled after his region’s parliament declared independence from Spain. Should he return, he faces arrest on charges of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of funds.
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“I am willing to meet Mr.Rajoy in Brussels or in any other location in the EU, so long as it is not in the Spanish state, for obvious reasons,” he said.
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The vote was widely seen as a moment of truth on the independence question, a divisive issue for the wealthy northern region, that has rattled a Europe already shaken by Brexit.
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With the secessionists maintaining their parliamentary majority, the move to call snap polls appeared to backfire against Rajoy, who had sacked the regional government and dissolved its parliament over the independence declaration.
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Spain beefs up border security as it fears Carles Puigdemont may stage surprise return

December 15, 2017

The Telegraph

By 

Spain’s security forces are reinforcing the borders to prevent a possible surprise return by ousted pro-independence leader Carles Puigdemont ahead of next week’s crucial elections in Catalonia, it was reported on Thursday.

Mr Puigdemont is campaigning to be re-elected president from Belgium, where he fled with four cabinet members to avoid sedition and rebellion charges following Catalonia’s unilateral independence declaration in late October.

Despite facing arrest the moment he steps on to Spanish soil, Mr Puigdemont insists he will take office if he is victorious.

But he has also eyed the possibility of returning before the December 21 election – a move which could boost his poll numbers to secure a win.

Faced with that prospect, the Interior Ministry is deploying extra security agents to points of entry, in particular the Spanish border with France, across which Mr Puigdemont made his dramatic escape.

The deployment is to be formed of multiple police agencies and will be tasked with detaining the ex-president if he crosses the frontier, police sources told the Barcelona-based paper La Vanguardia.

Mr Puigdemont’s Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) platform has risen in the polls since he vowed to return, but the vote remains on a knife-edge.

On Tuesday, he told press in Brussels that he was ready to “run the risk” of taking up office, but was more ambiguous about a pre-election return.

“I would like to, above all to exercise the right to vote, but it doesn’t depend on me,” he said.

He has not registered to vote from abroad, and neither have his ex-cabinet members.

There have been persistent rumours that Mr Puigdemont might attempt a surprise appearance in Girona, his home city and a pro-independence stronghold which lies less than 40 miles south of the French border.

It was to Girona – which this week renamed its central square after the illegal October 1 independence vote – that Mr Puigdemont retreated after being removed from office as Madrid imposed direct rule.

There, he received a hero’s welcome before fleeing by road to Marseilles, where he boarded a flight to Belgium.

Earlier this month, Spain’s Supreme Court withdrew its European Arrest Warrants for Mr Puigdemont and his colleagues, ending the extradition process under which he was required to remain in Belgium.

The move has left him with a stark choice – return as promised and face arrest, or remain free but in endless exile.

Failing to return at least after the vote would hugely undermine his image as a persecuted hero, particularly as other pro-independence figures – notably Oriol Junqueras, the former VP and now presidential rival – are fighting the same charges from Madrid jail cells.

The Interior Ministry did not respond to an inquiry from The Telegraph, while the National Police declined to comment.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/14/spain-beefs-border-security-fears-carles-puigdemont-may-stage/

Spain drops international arrest warrant for Catalonia ex-leader Puigdemont

December 5, 2017

AFP

© Aurore Belot, AFP | Catalonia’s dismissed leader Carles Puigdemont, along with other members of his dismissed government, arrives to address a press conference at The Press Club in Brussels on October 31, 2017.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-12-05

Spain’s Supreme Court said on Tuesday it had withdrawn an international arrest warrant for Catalonia’s former leader Carles Puigdemont and four of his cabinet members saying the politicians had shown willingness to return to Spain.

All five travelled to Belgium following a unilateral declaration of independence in the Catalan parliament on Oct. 27, considered illegal by Spanish courts.

The withdrawal of the arrest warrant also prevented more than one European jurisdiction overseeing the case, the court said.

(REUTERS)

Sacked Catalan leaders get pride of place in electoral lists

November 18, 2017

AFP

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

MADRID (AFP) – 

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.

Spanish government and the IMF issuing dire warnings about Catalonia’s move toward independence

October 14, 2017
Catalan separatists continue their push for independence despite the Spanish government and the IMF issuing dire warnings about the nation’s finances.
Source: 

AFP – SBS Wires
October 13, 2017

The International Monetary Fund and the Spanish government warned Friday the country’s economic growth could be dealt a blow if Catalonia’s drive to break away persists, just as the Catalan leader’s separatist allies pressed him to go ahead with independence.

The central government has given Carles Puigdemont until next Thursday to abandon Catalonia’s push for secession, failing which it may trigger unprecedented constitutional steps that could see Madrid take control of the semi-autonomous region.

Puigdemont’s separatist allies pressed him Friday to defy Madrid and declare independence.

But with dozens of companies having already moved their legal headquarters from Catalonia, concerns are rising that growth in the region could take a hit, and by extension that of Spain as a whole.

In Washington, IMF Europe Director Poul Thomsen said: “If there was prolonged uncertainty, that could weigh on growth, and obviously we want to avoid that.”

Spain’s deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria warned that if “there is no quick solution, we see ourselves having to lower economic forecasts for 2018”.

Spain issues Catalonia a deadline to clarify independence claim

‘Domino effect’

She accused Puigdemont of “seriously damaging Catalonia’s economic stability” as uncertainty over the fate of the region of 7.5 million people damages business confidence.

The eurozone’s fourth largest economy said in July it expected growth of 2.6 percent next year.

Spain’s Association of Registrars said Friday that 540 firms had sought to relocate their legal addresses from Catalonia from October 2-11.

Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s said the region’s economy risked sliding into recession if the crisis dragged on.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Friday he was against Catalan independence because it could trigger a separatist domino effect in the EU.

“I wouldn’t like to have a European Union which consists of 98 states in 15 years’ time,” he said during a speech in Luxembourg. “It’s already relatively difficult at 28, no easier at 27 (after Britain leaves), but at 98, that seems impossible.”

The Mobile World Congress, the phone industry’s largest annual trade fair held every year in Barcelona, said it would hold its 2018 in February as planned, after media reports suggested it was considering delaying.

A spokeswoman told AFP “we are continuing to monitor developments in Spain and Catalonia and assess any potential impact.”

Meanwhile Spain’s CEOE business lobby group said this week that Catalonia was already “seriously affected” by the crisis.

Ricardo Mur, vice-president of the Aragon Business Confederation said the region, which borders Catalonia, had seen a surge in activity.

“Industrial estates are almost full due to the transfer of Catalan businesses,” he told AFP.

Catalonia’s separatist push has ended

Pressure to break away

But Puigdemont is also under pressure from his separatist allies who feel that any decision to back down would infuriate hundreds of thousands of Catalans who voted to split from Spain in a banned referendum.

On Friday, the far-left CUP party, an ally of his coalition government, said in an open letter that “only by proclaiming a republic will we be able to respect what the majority expressed in the polls.”

The referendum took place on October 1 despite a court ban that ruled it unconstitutional, and regional authorities say 90 percent chose to split from Spain in a vote marred by police violence.

Turnout was 43 percent, they say, but the figures are impossible to verify as the referendum was not held according to official electoral standards.

Adding to pressure, Catalonia is deeply divided over independence, and those who want to stay in Spain are increasingly making their voices heard, having staged two mass rallies in just five days.

Puigdemont had pledged to declare independence if the “yes” vote won, but on Tuesday he gave an ambiguous statement.

Saying he accepted a mandate for “Catalonia to become an independent state,” he immediately suspended the declaration, calling for more time for talks with Madrid.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy retorted that Puigdemont had until next Monday to clarify whether or not he would press ahead with secession and then until next Thursday to reconsider, otherwise Madrid would act. He rejected any form of mediation.

Apart from the CUP’s open letter, the Catalan National Assembly, an influential pro-independence association whose followers are ready to take to the streets, also called on him to lift his suspension of the independence declaration.

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/10/14/spains-warning-economic-growth-catalan-crisis-persists

An ‘unknown disaster’ looms in Catalonia’s independence crisis — “The Catalonian government runs the risk of losing control of the situation entirely”

October 8, 2017

Masses of Catalans gathered in Barcelona this weekend to call for dialog and protest further confrontation with Spain. Their demand? More solutions, fewer egos. Mariel Müller reports from Barcelona.

A Spanish unity demonstration in Barcelona (picture-alliance/dpa/N. Carvalho Ochoa)

On Saturday, Sant Jaume Square in the center of Barcelona was a sea of white T-shirts. The choice of clothing was intended to send a message of peace. Thousands of residents were gathered here between the Catalonian presidential palace and Barcelona city hall in answer to an anonymous call to demonstration. And on Sunday, hundreds of thousands once more took the Barcelona’s streets under two yellow-and-red flags — that of Spain and that of the autonomous region of Catalonia (above).

The weekend’s goal: to demand that leaders on both sides of an increasingly intense conflict, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont, begin a dialog.

Read more: Anti-independence Catalans have been ‘abandoned’ by Spain’s central government

“They must finally sit down with one another and talk, things cannot keep on like this,” said a man that came to Saturday’s protest with his daughter on his shoulders. He says he has an opinion about Catalonian independence, but that is not what is called for here. “If I had seen just one flag, no matter if Spanish or Catalonian, I would have left immediately,” he said. Saturday’s flags were all white, emblazoned with the words “parlem” and “hablemos,” Catalan and Spanish respectively for “Let’s talk.”

Read more: Catalan independence: Spain rejects calls for mediation by Catalan President Carles Puigdemont

A young woman explains: “This is a people’s movement, not one sponsored by a political party.” That is also the reason that this particular protest is so much smaller that those which have been held over the last few weeks, such as the massive “Si” (Yes) rally that was staged before Catalonia held its controversial independence referendum on October 1. The demonstrator said it is hard to get hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets if a political party or major organization is not behind the call. And she is right: After about three hours, Saturday’s demonstration was over and the square was once again the stage for newlyweds armed with confetti cannons.

Protesters in front of the presidential palace in Barcelona (DW/M. Müller)Protesters in front of the presidential palace in Barcelona on Saturday

‘We are the silent majority’

But what will happen if Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont really does declare independence on Tuesday? Will the Spanish government invoke Article 155 of the Constitution and nullify Catalonian autonomy? Many are worried. Will Puigdemont be arrested? How will his supporters react? Will there be more violence? Those are all questions that the demonstrators are asking. One answer is repeatedly voiced, louder and clearer than any other: “The politicians should do their damn job — for us. They should let the people decide instead of trying to push their own political agendas at any cost,” said one agitated woman.

There is no doubt the majority of the people do not want independence. “We are the silent majority. We are the 60 percent that refused to vote, or voted ‘no.'” Indeed, the overwhelming majority of those gathered on Saturday say they are decidedly against breaking away from Spain.

The Catalonian government, however, says that 90 percent of those citizens that cast ballots in the contested independence referendum are for independence. They represent some 43 percent of all eligible Catalonian voters.

Read more: Catalan independence – what you need to know

There are also a number of citizens that are open to negotiations, says Oriol Bartomeu, a political scientist at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. “Most Catalans want to remain within Spain if Catalonia’s autonomous powers are expanded and if Spain truly transform itself into a pluralist system.” The expert adds that if Madrid had taken steps in that direction when it had the chance to do so years ago, the situation today would look very different.

Political Scientist Oriol Bartomeu (DW/Mariel Müller)Bartomeu said that Madrid could have acted in years past to prevent the present crisis

‘The Spanish side feels like it will win’

But right now that is not the case, and Madrid has refused to give an inch. “The Spanish side has the feeling that it will win out, so why should it make any concessions?” Bartomeu explains. It is currently pursing a strategy that says, either Catalonia gives in completely or it unilaterally declares independence. “And that would be very risky for the government of Catalonia, because it does not have majority support among the population,” he adds. Should that scenario come to pass, the Spanish government would then invoke Article 155. And then? “That’s the unknown disaster.”

One group that could greatly influence the Catalan decision is the left-wing party Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), which guarantees President Puigdemont’s parliamentary majority. Party spokesman Quim Arrufat says that he “does not want to take any unilateral steps.” Especially not in the wake of the heavy-handed crackdown meted out by Spanish police on the day of the referendum, he clarifies. “If there is movement on the Spanish side, then we will wait and see what happens.” Arrufat says that the CUP is prepared to start a dialog with Madrid.

CUP Spokesperson Quim Arrufat in Barcelona (DW/M. Müller)CUP spokesperon Arrufat says his party is open to dialog, but he doesn’t see way to back down from the current confrontation with Madrid

Separatist movement could become more radical

Ultimately, Arrafut believes the question is not if Catalonia will declare independence but when. He thinks that Tuesday, the day President Puigdemont is set to address Catalonia’s parliament, will be too soon. Will Puigdemont back down? “No,” says the party spokesman.

Political scientist Bartomeu says the situation is precarious. “If the Puigdemont government says, ‘let’s forget independence,’ it will have a big problem on its hands. They can say it, but that won’t mean that the separatist movement’s two million supporters will suddenly stop protesting — quite the opposite.” Then the Catalonian government will run the risk of losing control of the situation entirely, he explains. “The movement will be smaller, but much more radical,” warns Bartomeu. “At that point, no one can rule out violence between separatists and police.”

http://www.dw.com/en/an-unknown-disaster-looms-in-catalonias-independence-crisis/a-40866027

La Caixa foundation, Caixabank to move HQ from Catalonia to Mallorca

October 7, 2017

La Caixa Banking Foundation, which manages the holding company which controls Caixabank , said on Saturday it will move its headquarters to Palma de Mallorca for as long as political upheaval in Catalonia continues.

MADRID: La Caixa Banking Foundation, which manages the holding company which controls Caixabank , said on Saturday it will move its headquarters to Palma de Mallorca for as long as political upheaval in Catalonia continues.

Caixbank said on Friday it has decided to move its registered office to Valencia in light of the situation in Catalonia, which is set to claim independence from the rest of Spain following a disputed independence referendum.

(Reporting by Paul Day; editing by Alexander Smith)

Source: Reuters

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