Sunday, 17 December, 2017

Spanish PM gives Catalonia leader 5 days to clarify stand

A trader talks on the phone at Madrid's Bourse IBEX 35 Rallies as Spanish Political Tensions Ease, Other European Markets Mixed
Sammy Stanley | 12 October, 2017, 10:36

Puigdemont had been widely expected to unilaterally declare Catalonia's independence on Tuesday after the Catalan government said 90 percent of Catalans had voted for a breakaway in an October 1 referendum.

It is not yet clear if he will declare the restive region's independence from Spain, and whether such a declaration would be purely symbolic. We are normal people who are asking to vote, ' he said. On Tuesday night, many among the pro-independence crowd waiting outside the Catalan parliament also expressed dismay that Puigdemont had not declared immediate self-rule, and some booed the 54-year-old former journalist when he left the building.

Catalan officials say the final numbers show 90 percent of votes in favor of independence and regional President Carles Puigdemont proclaimed a victory.

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. Anti-independence voters largely boycotted the ballot and there were reports of irregularities.

According to news media, among the measures taken by Rajoy to tackle down secessionist challenge is an eventual intervention of Catalonia's autonomy through the application of Article-155 of the Constitution.

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"I'm calling on the sensible people in the Catalan government ... don't jump off the edge because you'll take the people with you", Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said in an interview with COPE radio station. Rajoy has said he will not negotiate on anything until the separatists abandon their independence drive, and rejected calls for mediation in the crisis.

Catalan officials say nearly 90% of voters backed independence with a turnout of 43%.

The EU today urged "full respect of the Spanish constitutional order". "Because the force of arguments is always better than the argument of force".

The drive to break Catalonia away from Spain has raised concern for stability in a European Union still coming to terms with Britain's shock decision to leave the bloc.

But he offered a possible exit from further confrontation between Madrid and Barcelona, saying Rajoy had agreed that there should be a six-month commission to examine the possibility of reforming the country's constitution, changing the way the country's autonomous regions are governed.

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