crisis in catalonia

Catalan premier asks for mediation, without renouncing independence

But Spanish government says he must first obey the law before any talks can take place

Carles Puigdemont speaks the day after the referendum.
Carles Puigdemont speaks the day after the referendum.Massimiliano Minocri

More information

In a recorded message broadcast on Wednesday night, Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont criticized King Felipe VI’s televised speech the night before about Catalonia, and reiterated his call for mediation in order to rebuild institutional bridges between the region and the rest of Spain.

Puigdemont, of the separatist governing coalition Junts pel Si (Together for Yes), chided the Spanish monarch for saying things like “the legitimate powers of the state have the responsibility to guarantee constitutional order and the normal functioning of the institutions, the validity of the rule of law and Catalonia’s self-government.”

Deputy PM Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría

The morning after Felipe VI’s address to the nation, Catalan government spokesman Jordi Turull said that the speech was “the monarchist equivalent of ‘go get ’em’.”

In his own speech, Puigdemont addressed the king directly in Catalan – “a language which I am aware that he knows and speaks” – and scolded him for failing to take an interest in the Catalan government’s version of events. He said that the monarch has abandoned “the role of moderator” that the Constitution awards him.

“With your decision yesterday, you disappointed a lot of people in Catalonia who appreciate you and who have helped you through difficult times for the [royal] institution,” said Puigdemont. “People who were expecting a different tone from you, and an appeal for dialogue.”

Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont

In three years, Felipe VI has visited Catalonia 23 times.

Puigdemont, who also spoke in Spanish, insisted on the need for mediation, but without renouncing his plans for a unilateral declaration of independence.

The regional premier is scheduled to appear inside the Catalan parliament on Monday at a session that could result in a declaration of independence, at least according to CUP, the far-left party that supports the Junts pel Si coalition.

The breakaway laws pushed through this chamber last month, and since suspended by the Constitutional Court, establish that independence will be declared just a few days after the referendum.

Puigdemont’s private agenda has been filled with foreign media interviews in recent days. In his latest statements to the German newspaper Bild, he said: “I am not afraid for myself. Being jailed is a possibility, and that would be a savage step. The Spanish government is making one mistake after another, and it is increasingly removed from reality.”

Journey to nowhere

But the Spanish government is ignoring Puigdemont’s requests for international mediation, and telling him to stop “this journey to nowhere.”

Using a very similar turn of phrase as the Catalan premier himself, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said that “Mr Puigdemont has proven that not only does he live outside the law, he also lives outside of reality.”

“If Mr Puigdemont wants to talk or negotiate, or send in mediators, he knows perfectly well what he needs to do first: return to the path of the law, which he should never have left,” said the government in a statement.

English version by Susana Urra.

More information