Catalonia’s regional leader Carles Puigdemont rejects snap poll as Spain mulls direct rule

October 27, 2017 10:56 am
Catalan President leaves after a session of the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona on October 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
’s regional leader Carles Puigdemont has refused to call snap elections to break a deadlock between Madrid and the semi-autonomous region. 
Speaking at the regional government’s headquarters in Barcelona on Friday, Puigdemont said the central government had not provided sufficient guarantees that holding elections would prevent the imposition of direct rule.
“I was ready to call an election if guarantees were given. There is no guarantee that justifies calling an election today,” he said.
He said it was now up to the Catalan parliament to go ahead with a “mandate” to declare independence from following a referendum that took place on October 1.
Madrid has considered that referendum illegal and threatened to take away Catalonia’s semi-autonomous status if the region did not unambiguously drop its bid for secession.
The Spanish Senate is poised to vote on Friday to take away Catalonia’s autonomy. It is set to approve the invocation of the constitution’s Article 155, which would allow the takeover of Catalonia’s institutions and police and the removal of the Catalan president.
Catalonia has been defiant. It has said it would resist the imposition of direct rule by Madrid.
But divisions have emerged between Catalan officials. On Thursday, the regional government’s business head resigned in opposition to a potential unilateral declaration of independence.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had earlier announced Madrid’s decision to hold fresh elections in Catalonia. Rajoy has been seeking the Senate’s permission to dissolve the Catalan parliament and “call elections within a maximum of six months.”
    Ander Gil Garcia, a spokesman for the Socialists in the Senate, has appealed to Puigdemont to call a regional election “and avoid a disaster from which Catalonia and Spain would take a long time to recover.”
    Spain has been in turmoil since the disputed referendum on October 1. Puigdemont claimed that 90 percent of the voters in the referendum had backed secession, but the turnout had been put at only 43 percent.
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