Spanish government to hold meeting over situation in Catalonia

Reuters

Reuters

But, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has suspended the secession to allow talks with the Spanish Government.

On October 1, the Catalan government finally held what it called a valid referendum, but Madrid considered it an unconstitutional and nonbinding act of protest.

Puigdemont announces in a speech to the Catalan parliament that he has the right to declare independence after the referendum but suspends the process to allow for talks with Madrid.

In the referendum this month, about 90 percent of the almost 2.3 million votes cast were in favor of independence, and about 8 percent were against, according to the Catalan regional government.

"More than two million two hundred thousand Catalans were able to vote because they overcame their fear, and because when they arrived at their polling station, they found ballot boxes, envelopes, voting slips, constituted voting tables and an operative and reliable electoral list", he said.

Mr Puigdemont had said he was determined to apply a law passed by the Catalan assembly which called for a declaration of independence within days if Catalans voted "yes" in the referendum.

In a newspaper interview, Rajoy refuses to rule out suspending Catalonia's regional autonomy unless its leaders withdraw the threatened independence declaration.

Ruling party lawmakers say Mr Rajoy is considering taking the unprecedented step of dissolving the Catalan parliament and triggering new regional elections.

In a speech to the Catalan Parliament, Carles Puigdemont said he will follow the will of those who voted in the October 1 referendum.

Catalan nationalists have always argued that the region is a separate nation with its own history, culture and language, and that it should have increased fiscal independence.

"The only ones who don't converse, and I have to say this every time, is the Spanish government", pro-independence activist Jordi Sanchez said. And French President Emmanuel Macron rejected Puigdemont's call for European Union mediation, saying he was confident Madrid could handle the situation.

The political deadlock has plunged Spain into its deepest political crisis in more than four decades, since democratic rule was restored following the dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco. And he said that has caused divisions within Mr. Puigdemont's governing coalition, which has a small majority in parliament.

The Spanish government will meet on Wednesday to decide on its response to Puigdemont's declaration.

What does the Spanish Government say?

Reaction among those who had hoped to witness a historic moment for a region deeply-divided over independence was mixed.

Yet some Catalan residents have been shifting their bank accounts to lenders and branches in other regions of Spain and the country's borrowing costs have hit six-month highs since the vote.

After a cabinet meeting, a spokesman only said "we are all very sure of what we are going to do".

Representatives of the Scottish and Flemish independence movements have told RT the suspension of Catalonia's independence from Spain is an "anticlimax", but the decision is understandable because of "huge pressure" from Madrid and the "risk of violence". "With a Spanish state that continues to harass and persecute us?"

A general strike called by more than 40 unions, political and social groups, disrupts Barcelona's port, transport and some businesses.

So his move disappointed supporters of the independence vote, some of them watching the speech on large screens outside the 18th-century parliament building.

Eric Martinez, a 27-year-old manager, also wept as he watched the speech with his girlfriend.

"Perhaps it isn't the decisive declaration, declaring the republic and breaking away (from Spain) from today before any negotiation", said Oscar Baldes.

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