Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont has deemed early elections not a viable way to resolve the crisis over his regional government’s drive for independence from Spain. Puigdemont said that he had considered calling a snap election, but was choosing not to because he had not received sufficient guarantees that the government’s “abusive” moves to take control of Catalonia would be suspended, according to The Independent.
He said that ultimately the regional parliament should decide on how to respond to the Spanish authorities’ takeover plan.
Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy spoke about invoking the Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which would allow Madrid to strip Catalonia of its self-governance. He said that the Catalan parliament will not be dissolved immediately, but its functions will be limited to “avoid measures contrary to the Constitution.” The Spanish Senate is set to vote on triggering Article 155 on October 27.
Article 155 of Spain’s 1978 constitution allows Madrid to impose direct rule in a crisis, but it has never been invoked in democratic Spain.
On the other hand, Catalonia’s vice-president has warned Spain on October 25 that its decision to impose direct rule has left separatists with little choice but to embark on the creation of a sovereign Catalan state. Oriol Junqueras told Associated Press that his Republican Left party – part of Catalonia’s ruling coalition – was “going to work towards building a republic because we understand that there is a democratic mandate to establish such a republic”.
He stressed that he was speaking only for his party and not the Catalan government, but added: “We also understand that the Spanish government is giving us no other option than to defend the civil rights and citizens’ rights through the best tools that our institutions have.”
Puigdemont declared independence after a referendum on October 1, which was ruled illegal by Spain’s constitutional court. Although Puigdemont signed a declaration of independence, he has proposed that its effects be suspended to allow for talks. Rajoy has refused to engage in dialogue with Puigdemont until he abandons his independence plans and has said there can be no international mediation on a domestic, constitutional issue.
According to the regional government, 90% of the 2.26 million Catalans who voted during the October 1 independence referendum chose yes. The turnout was 42.3%, which may signify the fact that those in favor of staying with Spain deemed the vote illegitimate and didn’t vote, as pre-referendum polls have shown a clear 60-40 majority of Catalans in favor of remaining part of Spain. Madrid used police violence in an attempt to prevent the vote. At least 893 people and 33 police were reported to have been hurt during the attempts to stop the vote by the police.