The Spanish government reacted swiftly to the Catalan parliament’s approval on Monday of a separatist motion that begins the breakaway process from Spain.
Less than an hour after the controversial motion was passed in the Catalan assembly with 72 votes in favor and 63 against, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that the government would put all necessary wheels in motion to stop the secessionist drive.
I would like not to have to make any further decision, because that would mean that common sense has returned to a lot of people who shouldn’t have lost it” Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy
Adopting an assertive tone that critics had seen missing in recent months, Rajoy said that his government would appeal the motion before the Constitutional Court, and that he would “sign a decree of unconstitutionality asking for the immediate suspension of this initiative and all its possible effects.”
“The government will not allow this to continue,” said the Popular Party (PP) leader in Béjar, Salamanca, where he was taking part in a rally. “We are setting all mechanisms in motion so that nobody can attribute themselves unlimited powers outside of democracy. With this appeal I am acknowledging my obligation as a ruler and my beliefs as a democrat and as a Spaniard.”
In an address that made a call to Spanish unity, Rajoy sought to allay mounting fears that Spain could ultimately break up.
“Catalonia is not going to disconnect from anywhere, and there is going to be no break-up,” Rajoy said. “Nobody will have to choose or renounce their Spanish and European citizenship. Nobody is going to be left defenseless by Spain’s democratic laws, which protect everybody’s rights and everybody’s equal status. We are a free, European nation, a society of free and equal citizens.”
But in his 10-minute address, Rajoy stopped short of confirming whether he would go so far as to invoke article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which would suspend Catalonia’s powers of self-government altogether.
“I would like not to have to make any further decision, because that would mean that common sense has returned to a lot of people who shouldn’t have lost it,” said Rajoy, who is facing a complicated re-election bid on December 20.
English version by Susana Urra.