Catalan leader under pressure to drop independence

10 October, 2017, 00:41 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • People raise their hands painted in white during a protest in favor of talks and dialogue in Sant Jaume square in Barcelona Spain Saturday Oct. 7 2017. Thousands are gathering at simultaneous rallies in Madrid and Barcelona in a call for dialogue amid

Recent polls had indicated that Catalans are split on independence, though leaders said police violence during the referendum turned many against the state authorities. They marched across 50 Spanish cities, carrying banners calling for peace and dialogue between leaders.

Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont plans to address the Catalan parliament on Tuesday evening in a session that some have portrayed as the staging of an independence declaration for the northeastern region of 7.5 million, although others have said the move would only be symbolic.

The Catalan government on Friday said approximately 90 percent of those who voted opted for independence, although turnout was only 43 percent.

The day before, between 50,000 and 150,000 people had demonstrated in Madrid to defend Spain's unity.

"We're a little spot on the map and often we're not taken into account", said Maria Verges Perez, the deputy mayor of Aran's capital, Vielha, a cluster of stone-and-slate houses on the valley floor ringed by autumnal forests. "We are facing a tremendous unknown".

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His remarks, following mass pro-Spanish and pro-dialogue demonstrations in Barcelona at the weekend, were taken by some observers to be an olive branch.

The Spanish PM insisted that what happens next "depends fundamentally" on whether Puigdemont will declare independence.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has refused to rule out suspending Catalonia's regional autonomy unless its leaders withdraw a threatened declaration of independence as thousands rallied for national unity.

"The declaration of independence, that we don't call a "unilateral" declaration of independence, is foreseen in the referendum law as an application of the results".

Tension is building throughout Spain on Monday, with less than 24 hours from a possible declaration of independence from the Catalan government.

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She also repeated the EU line that if the region seceded from Spain it would automatically leave the union and would have to reapply for membership.

"I think that whatever they do, they have made us angry, and I think we have seen that a. part of Spain doesn't like us - the king doesn't like us either and so I think that, also because of how they've treated us just now, there is no turning back".

Catalonia accounts for almost a fifth of Spain's economy, and leads all regions in producing 25% of the country's exports, CNNMoney reports.

Douglas Chapman MP, who presented the Catalan motion to the conference on Monday afternoon, told BuzzFeed News: "The decision is for the people of Catalonia [but I] would support their right to self determination and independence if that's what they choose to do".

The gap between Spain and Germany's 10-year bond yield shrank to around 118 basis points - having stretched out to 136 bps last week at the height of worries about a conflict between Catalonia and the central government in Madrid.

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