Spanish markets rise on report of possible Catalan election

Bayern star Hummels fit for Leipzig Cup clash

Bayern star Hummels fit for Leipzig Cup clash

The standoff between Spain and Catalonia over the region's move to secede approached a crucial juncture Thursday as the pro-independence Catalan leader ruled out calling an early election that some had hoped would defuse tensions with the Spanish government.

The Catalan government, led by Puigdemont, has consistently argued that the "yes" vote provides the Catalonian region with a mandate to announce a split from Spain.

The upper house, where Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's Popular Party holds a majority, is due on Friday to approve the measures proposed by the central government.

At the same time, a Senate committee is scheduled to gather in the Spanish capital to work on a blueprint for seizing the region's political powers and finances in a bid to stop the independence drive.

The Constitutional Court ruled the vote illegal and contrary to the constitution, which states that Spain's unity is "unbreakable".

Those measures are meant to last for up to six months, until regional elections are called and a new Catalan parliament is sworn in.

The spread between the two widened sharply earlier this month after Catalonia voted overwhelmingly in favor of breaking away from Spain, albeit on a low turnout, in an October 1 referendum declared illegal by authorities in Madrid.

A sudden announcement Thursday morning by Puigdemont's office that the president would address the media fuelled speculation he might be about to back off an expected full declaration of independence.

The central government, in turn, accuses Catalan leaders of having breached the very same constitution by holding an independence referendum on Oct 1 - an unregulated vote widely seen as the trigger for the current stand-off between the region and Madrid. They were joined by the regional parliament's speaker and representatives of Assemblea Nacional Catalana and Omnium Cultural, the grassroots organizations that have been key in the independence push.

The announcement came after day of confusion in Barcelona. Ahead of his statement, a spokesman for the Catalan Republic Left party, or ERC, a separatist party that is part of the Catalan ruling coalition, had said the coalition was at risk of breaking apart if Puigdemont called an election.

Some protesters sang "Els Segadors", the Catalan official anthem.

Two of his MPs said they were resigning in protest. We wanted him to call for elections. "This is the point of no return". "I'm not in favor of independence, but I don't think this is right".

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