Posts Tagged ‘Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’

Ex-Catalan leader granted freedom to campaign for independence

November 6, 2017


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Ousted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont appears on a monitor during a live TV interview on a screen in a bar in Brussels, Belgium, November 3, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Vidal Reuters

BRUSSELS/MADRID (Reuters) – Catalonia’s former leader Carles Puigdemont was spared custody on Monday, when a Brussels court ruled he could remain at liberty in Belgium until it had heard Spanish allegations of rebellion against him.

The court’s decision means Puigdemont, who left Spain last month after Madrid fired his secessionist government and dissolved the Catalan parliament, is free to campaign for independence for an election in the region on Dec 21.

The vote is shaping up as a de facto independence referendum.

Puigdemont’s PDeCAT and another secessionist party said at the weekend they might run on a combined ticket, but would need to make a decision on any formal alliance — which might also include other parties — by a deadline of Tuesday.

Alliances could however also form after the election.

The independence push has dragged Spain in to its worst political crisis since its return to democracy four decades ago and has deeply divided the country, fuelling anti-Spanish feelings in Catalonia and nationalist tendencies elsewhere.

Puigdemont turned himself in to Belgian police on Sunday along with four of his ex-ministers, after Spain issued a European arrest warrant on charges of rebellion as well as misuse of public funds.

All five are barred from leaving Belgium without a judge’s consent.

“The next step in the proceedings is the appearance of the five defendants before the Chambre du Conseil within the next 15 days,” prosecutors said in a statement.

The Chambre is a court of first instance that is responsible for ruling on extradition requests.

Spain’s central government took control of Catalonia, which makes up a fifth of the national economy, after local leaders held an independence referendum on Oct. 1 despite a Constitutional Court ban.

The region’s parliament then passed a unilateral declaration of independence. In response, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fired the government and called the snap regional elections.


Opinion polls show support for secession and for Puigdemont and his allies, eight of whom stayed behind in Spain and are being detained on similar accusations to the ones the deposed leader faces, has remained steady.

On Sunday, the first part of a GAD3 survey showed that pro-independence parties would win the election but may not gain the parliamentary majority needed to continue with secession.

On Monday, the second part showed just one in seven people from Catalonia believe the current standoff between Barcelona and Madrid will end in independence for the region while more than two thirds think the process has been bad for the economy.

Published in La Vanguardia newspaper, that survey polled 1,233 people between Oct. 30 and Nov. 3.

Optimism that a negotiated solution would be found was low, with just over a fifth of respondents thinking the crisis would lead to talks between regional authorities and Madrid.

The uncertainty has prompted more than 2,000 companies to relocate their legal headquarters out of the region since Oct. 1, while the Bank of Spain said if the conflict persists it could lead to slower growth and job creation.

According to the poll, 67 percent said they believed the process had hurt the economy and almost 40 percent said the company exodus would have a negative affect on growth in the short term.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee and Paul Day; Editing by Mark Bendeich and John Stonestreet


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 to Push for Better Counter-Terrorism Coordination in Europe: PM

August 25, 2017

MADRID — Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Friday he would ask a summit attended by French, Spanish, Italian and German leaders next Monday to discuss how European cooperation on counter-terrorism efforts could be improved.

Fifteen people died last week in twin attacks by Islamist militants in the Spanish region of Catalonia.

Rajoy told a news conference he wanted European Union partners to “analyze the current cooperation mechanisms … and look at options to boost them and improve them.”

(Reporting by Angus Berwick; Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Jesus Aguado)

An armed police officer outside a stadium in Barcelona. Catalan law enforcement officials have long complained that they are not allowed to work on their own with foreign intelligence organizations.Credit Santi Palacios/Associated Press

Relatives of the men who carried out the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils last week gathered with other Muslims in the main square of Ripoll, Spain, on Saturday in support of the victims.Credit Samuel Aranda for The New York Times