Spanish government seeks clarification from Catalonia after delayed independence declaration
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called on the Catalan government to clarify whether or not it has declared independence before he decides if he should suspend the regional governments powers and impose direct rule from Madrid. Rajoy made the request following the speech given by Catalan President Carles Puigdemont on Tuesday in which he said that the outcome of the October 1 vote gave his government a mandate to declare independence but that he would delay doing so to allow more to time for negotiations with Madrid.
Thousands of Catalans had gathered in the streets to watch Puigdemont’s highly anticipated announcement on big screens in Barcelona, the capital of the northeastern region. The world’s media also turned its attention to what many thought could be a momentous and highly divisive declaration of independence following the violence-marred referendum that saw ninety percent vote in favour of leaving Spain, but only forty-two percent of eligible voters turnout.
“I assume the mandate that Catalonia should become an independent state in the form of a republic,” said Mr Puigdemont, to an eruption of applause from the separatists in the parliament, before adding that he proposes “suspending the effects of the declaration of independence to undertake talks to reach an agreed solution.”
Shortly afterwards the government in Madrid held a cabinet meeting to discuss their response to Puigdemont’s announcement. “The cabinet has agreed this morning to formally require the Catalan government to confirm whether it has declared independence after the deliberate confusion created over whether it has come into effect,” Mr Rajoy said in a television address after the meeting. With the ball now back in the Catalan government’s court Madrid maintains the option of invoking article 155 of the constitution should the Catalans act on independence. This would strip the Catalan executive of its powers and impose direct rule from Madrid, a move would be certain to heighten tensions further.