Spain Evaluates Response to Catalan Secessionist Challenge

Spain Evaluates Response to Catalan Secessionist Challenge

Spain Evaluates Response to Catalan Secessionist Challenge

He said that result gave the wealthy Spanish region a right to be an independent republic, but then handed responsibility for declaring independence to regional lawmakers and asking them for more time to negotiate a potential secession with the central government in Madrid.

If Mr Puigdemont confirms his region had split from Spain, Madrid would give him five more days, to October 19 at 10 am, to reconsider before suspending Catalan autonomy, Mr Rajoy added.

"This call - ahead of any of the measures that the government may adopt under Article 155 of our constitution - seeks to offer citizens the clarity and security that a question of such importance requires", Rajoy said. We must put an urgent end to the situation in Catalonia.

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The conflict over a self-determination vote has been dragging on for six years but Catalan separatists staged an independence referendum on October 1 despite Spain's insistence it was illegal. An Interior Ministry official later apologized for the injuries but laid the blame on the Catalan government for having encouraged people to vote.

His warning came after Puigdemont announced on Tuesday that he was proceeding with a declaration of independence, but was suspending its implementation to allow for talks with Madrid.

Rajoy faces pressure from his own Partido Popular (People's Party) to maintain a hardline with the separatists.

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On Tuesday night, Puigdemont signed a self-rule declaration after delivering a rambling 40-minute speech in the Catalan parliament.

"Given that Rajoy can not accept a bilateral discussion without Puigdemont backtracking first on independence, the most likely scenario is that the prime minister activates the next steps of Article 155 (the so-called "nuclear option"), which will probably happen within the next 48 hours". Rajoy pointed out that this was needed as the first step towards invoking of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, El Pais is reporting.

Many Catalans have long highlighted the region's differences from the rest of Spain but the latest surge for independence began in 2010, when Spain's top court struck down key parts of a charter that would have granted Catalonia greater autonomy and recognized it as a nation within Spain.

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With tempers running high in the region, closing the Catalan parliament and presumably arresting secessionist leaders risks catapulting the crisis along more violent lines, fear some analysts. Opponents of independence have largely boycotted referendum.

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