Spanish leader Rajoy mulls suspending Catalonia autonomy

Spanish leader Rajoy mulls suspending Catalonia autonomy

Kerry Wise
October 9, 2017

Based on this, the courts and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government have insisted that a decision affecting the unity of Spain can not be taken by just one region, but that all Spaniards need to be consulted.

Rallies were held Saturday in Madrid, Barcelona and other cities to demand that Rajoy and Puigdemont negotiate to find a solution to Spain's worst political crisis in almost four decades.

At least 350,000 people gathered in Barcelona, capital of Catalonia, for a rally against independence from Spain.

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais published Sunday, Rajoy said "Spain is not going to be divided and the nation's unity will be maintained". "The Spanish state would have no alternative but to intervene with all its might", said Josep Borrell, a Catalan socialist and former president of the European Parliament.

Demonstrators shout slogans and hold placards reading "Do we talk?" and "Time to talk" during a protest in front of Madrid City Hall under the slogan "Hablemos" in Spanish, "Parlem" in Catalan or "Let's talk" in English on Oct 7, 2017, in Madrid, Spain.

Some right wing Falange party supporters also attened the rally and made fascist salutes while urging for Spainish leaders to invoked article 155 of the country's constitution, stripping Catalonia of its autonomy. Less than half the electorate of the region participated in the vote last Sunday.

Spain's Minister of Public Works Inigo de la Serna said on Saturday that "the companies will keep leaving and it's exclusively the fault of the members of the regional government".

More than 90 per cent of the 2.3 million people who voted backed secession, according to Catalan officials. Madrid responded to the vote with force, sending thousands of police to the region to shut down the vote.

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All this goes against Spain's Constitutional Court, which has repeatedly said that the country's 1978 constitution does not allow regions to call independence referendums.

There is speculation that the parliament will declare independence unilaterally at its next sitting, based on the referendum.

Spain's sharp economic downturn also helped push the independence cause from the fringes to the mainstream by fueling a sense that Catalonia would be richer on its own.

GettyTens of thousands rallied against the region's independence bid from Spain.

"We've been very peaceful".

In the wake of the referendum, Catalan regional leader Carles Puigdemont pledged to present the results to the local parliament, despite the Spanish Constitutional Court ruling the referendum illegal.

He added: "I want to say something with absolute clarity - while the threat of independence is in the political landscape, it will be very hard for the government to not take these decisions". "Here they are always with their doors open for dialogue, but I think this will end badly", he said.

"Besides Catalans, there are thousands of men and women from all corners of Spain who have come to tell their Catalan companions that they are not alone", said Llosa, who took on Spanish citizenship in addition to that of his native Peru in 1993.