Catalan elections 2015

Prime minister cuts walking tour short in Catalonia after heckling

Mariano Rajoy was met with cries of “Independence!” and “Fascist!” in city of Reus

With less than a week to go before crucial Catalan regional elections are held, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was forced to cut short a campaign swing through Reus (Tarragona) on Tuesday after a large group began heckling him and his entourage.

Tensions flared when about 100 people began shouting pro-independence slogans and called the prime minister a “fascist” as he was making his way through a crowd along with the Popular Party’s (PP) candidate in the region, Xavier García Albiol.

Tensions flared when about 100 people began shouting pro-independence slogans and called the prime minister a “fascist”

Catalan Mossos d’Esquadra police officers had to cordon off Llovera street where Rajoy and other PP officials had planned to walk through and shake hands for about an half-an-hour before attending a party rally. The prime minister and his group were quickly whisked away by the Mossos.

The rally at the Fira de Reus pavilion went on as scheduled.

Earlier in the day, Rajoy’s comments to journalist Carlos Alsina of the Onda Cero radio network became a trending topic on  networks after the prime minister got confused when explaining how people would lose their nationality should Catalonia’s nationalist parties get their way, and the region unilaterally secedes from Spain.

“Today, a Catalan is a Catalan, a Spaniard and a European,” Rajoy said. “What some want is to ask the people to renounce their Spanish and European citizenship – which is nonsense – and their rights as Spaniards and Europeans. Why should they have to lose all of this? This goes against the times we live in, and this is what we are trying to defend.”

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Alsina clarified that Catalans would not lose their Spanish nationality if they chose independence, which confused Rajoy.

“Oh, I don’t know. Why won’t they lose Spanish nationality, and European as well?” he asked.

“Well because the law states that a citizen who was born in Spain doesn’t lose his nationality even if he resides in a foreign country and states his decisions to keep it,” Alsina explained.

“Well, and the European?” Rajoy asked.

“They are European because they have Spanish nationality,” the radio journalist said, prompting a number of confused expressions to play across the prime minister’s face.

"Mr Rajoy – Father Christmas doesn't exist" The expression of the prime minister during Tuesday’s interview.