February 24, 2018

Spain's PM says he could use constitution

08 October 2017, 08:28 | Christie Tate

Catalonian police chief and 3 others due in court over sedition allegations

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Yesterday, Spanish government's representative in Catalonia made a conciliatory gesture by apologising for violent police crackdown on protesters during Catalonia's independence referendum staged last Sunday.

Yurena Diaz, a 36-year-old doctor with her dog Quillo on a lead, said she was demonstrating "so that there would be dialogue before we lose ourselves, so they they try and sit down and talk".

"Everyone has the right to say their opinion". This is our flag, and Catalonia's is our flag", the man says, wrapped in the red and yellow Spanish flag. "Viva Espana! Attendees respected the organizers' call to not bring the Spanish or Catalan flag.

On Sunday 1 October, Catalans were called to vote in a referendum on independence that had been suspended by Spain's Constitutional Court.

At the same time in Madrid there was another rally in support of Spanish unity and against Catalan independence.

Darling of the liberal left French president Emmanuel Macron telephoned his Spanish counterpart and said he backed him and the "constitutional unity of Spain". How will his supporters react?

"There is a lot more tension and violence". One answer is repeatedly voiced, louder and clearer than any other: "The politicians should do their damn job - for us".

The "clumsy and heavy-handed" response to the vote "will stoke the flames of separatism", says Roger Cohen in The New York Times.

"The consequences of Catalonia detaching from Spain are, first of all, we would find ourselves out of the EU. Every attempt the Spanish government has used to impede things to happen, they have been demonstrated completely not only useless but counter-productive", Romeva told the BBC.

Piqué jeered by Spain fans after Catalan vote
Puigdemont said the low turnout was partly because many people wanted to vote, but were prevented by officials from doing so. Spain's interior minister said the 5,000 extra officers deployed to Catalonia would stay as long as necessary.

Of course, if Catalonia does manage to leave, this "would be an even heavier blow" to Spain than Scottish independence would be to the United Kingdom, says Martin Wolf in the Financial Times. They represent some 43 percent of all eligible Catalonian voters. The moves so far do not affect jobs or investments but don't send a message of confidence in the Puigdemont government.

But right now that is not the case, and Madrid has refused to give an inch.

Unless there is a U-turn, he said, the Spanish state "will annul the autonomy, more repression, more police forces and we will have a military intervention". The European Union has already said Catalonia would be expelled from the bloc and its shared currency, the euro, if it declared independence and would have to reapply to rejoin, a lengthy, uncertain process. "And that would be very risky for the government of Catalonia, because it does not have majority support among the population", he adds. And then? "That's the unknown disaster".

There is speculation that the parliament will declare independence unilaterally at its next sitting.

The focus has shifted to Tuesday, when Puigdemont is set to address the regional parliament "to report on the current political situation". Will Puigdemont back down?

Carles Campuzano, the spokesman for the Democratic Party of Catalonia, described the hearing Friday as an outrage. "I would like this threat of a declaration of independence to be withdrawn as quickly as possible".

By using code words and clandestine meetings with information strictly limited to a need-to-know basis, hundreds of separatists defied the law - and the odds - by keeping what they claim were 10,000 ballot boxes hidden in tiny stashes around the region and out of the hands of authorities for weeks.

European leaders are panicking as so many countries now have growing separatist movements.

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