After an emergency meeting of his cabinet, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy asked Catalan government to clarify whether or not they declared independence yesterday. The region`s president Carles Puigdemont said to the parliament he accepts the results of the referendum but called for a suspension of the actual declaration for a few weeks.
Puigdemont signed a declaration of independence but halted implementation to allow negotiations with Madrid. During his speech, he said that this was needed for their final goal, and added that was the only logical decision possible. The declaration was later signed by some of the lawmakers too. The Catalan President also accused the Spanish government of trying to stop the referendum by force. His speech was later criticized by both the proponents of independence and Spanish parties who are against the notion
Rajoy: Deliberate confusion
Today, Rajoy accused Puigdemont of creating deliberate confusion and said he wanted to restore certainty to the political processes in Spain. He says clarification was necessary before the Spanish government could take other measures. The prime minister said the Spanish government would base its response on the answer it was given, including any measures it might take invoking a constitutional clause allowing for direct rule.
“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.
Article 155 of the Spanish constitution would allow Spanish to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy and impose direct rule from Madrid. It would also give Spanish government authority to disband the Catalan Parliament and force a new election.
“There is an urgent need to put an end to the situation that Catalonia is going through, to return it to safety, tranquillity and calm and to do that as quickly as possible,” he added.
Rajoy was speaking after holding an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the government’s next steps.
Spanish legal experts think that the regional government clearly broke the Constitution by signing the declaration, even with it`s suspended effects. They wouldn`t be surprised if the Spanish authorities used the full force of the law, before sitting on the negotiating table.
“Let’s be clear: A region doesn’t have the competence to declare any kind of independence,” Ignacio Gordillo, a former prosecutor for Spain’s national court, told Antenna 3, New York Times reports. “You cannot negotiate with criminals.”
The Spanish laws don`t leave a possibility for secession. Catalonia`s referendum was declared invalid by the country’s Constitutional Court before it was even held, and the results have also been declared void in a separate decision by the same court.
Puigdemont: People`s will was to separate
Addressing the Catalan parliament, Puigdemont repeated yesterday the autonomous region had won the right to be independent as a result of the vote.
“We call on international states and organizations to recognize the Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state,” he said.
Puigdemont argues that the “people’s will” was to break away from Madrid, but he also said he wanted to de-escalate the tension around the issue.
Crowds of independence supporters in Barcelona cheered Puigdemont’s initial remarks, but many expressed disappointment as he clarified his stance. The lawmakers from the main independence party CUP have even called him a “traitor” in response to his decision. Barcelona mayor Ada Colau has also called for dialogue before the parliament session, showing that there is some rift inside the regional government about the future moves after the referendum.