Puigdemont declares independence for Catalonia but suspends it in search of dialogue
Central government sources believe the speech by the Catalan premier to be a declaration of secession; measures such as Article 155 could be applied. Read our live coverage as it happened
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There was huge expectation surrounding a session of the Catalan parliament that was scheduled for Tuesday at 6pm, when regional premier Carles Puigdemont was expected to make a statement to “explain the political situation.”
In the event, the leader of the Junts pel Si (Together for Yes) did not speak until 7pm, due to a disagreement over the content of his speech with his partners in the far-left CUP party.
During his address, of nearly an hour, Puigdemont declared independence unilaterally based on a ballot that lacked all basic democratic guarantees, and which yielded 90% of Yes votes as the vast majority of Remainers stayed home, for a turnout of less than half of the voter pool.
But he immediately suspended it in search of dialogue. Central government sources stated they would take action over what they saw as a unilateral declaration of independence, which could include Article 155: the suspension of the region's autonomy.
In its formal request, the central government gives Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont five days to confirm whether he has declared Catalonia’s independence or not. If the answer is affirmative, the document provides another deadline ending on Thursday, October 19 for Catalan authorities to rectify and prevent the application of Section 155 of the Spanish Consitution, which would allow Madrid to temporarily take over Catalonia’s internal affairs, EFE reports.
Joan Tardá of Catalan Republican Left (ERC) to the PP government: “You have opted for an increase in repression. We are a peaceful people. I’m not saying that we are defenseless but we are a people who have chosen to be peaceful, perhaps also because we are a nation without a state, and because if we are where we are, and still are what we are, and have maintained our language with great difficulty, it’s because we couldn’t waste any time, and had to devote great efforts, and generations, to maintaining that which others, for historical reasons, had already assured for themselves. We haven’t even been tempted to be violent, we couldn’t waste the time.”
Yolanda Díaz, of the Galician Communist Party: “Don’t take measures that there is no going back on, which will lead to confrontation. This is the time for words. We have reached this point because you irresponsibly liquidated the Statute that was approved by this chamber. Mrs Robles, don’t let the PP appropriate the Constitution, Alianza Popular (the PP’s predecessor) did not vote for it. You do not understand Catalonia and you want to go back to the days prior to May 15. From Galicia, we tell you to stop this hate against Catalona and against Spain. The demand for the referendum is the last way out: it may be today, tomorrow or in five years, but it will happen.”
Socialist Party (PSOE) spokeswoman Margarita Robles expresses her party’s support for the government: “I agree with your words because we are experiencing very difficult and very serious times, and that’s why we believe this is a time for politics. We Socialists defend the constitutional framework because many within the PSOE paid with their freedom in order to obtain such a framework. Many Socialists, and many Catalans, paid for it with their freedoms.”
Rajoy: “We’ve been together for centuries, and we have been able to draw strength from our unity. And Spain wants Catalonia, with its culture, its language and its personality. I am seeing a serene Spain, filled with thousands of Spaniards who have taken to the streets, also the streets of Catalonia, to proclaim their love for their country. For all of them, it is necessary to end the present fracture by displaying serenity and prudence, working towards the goal of restoring social harmony.”
Rajoy: “I am a firm supporter of dialogue, but I should warn that it is not possible to accept a unilateral imposition of viewpoints that one of the parties cannot accept. And national sovereignty and where it rests cannot be negotiated. This is something that should be taken into account by the well-intentioned mediators who have stepped up.”
Rajoy: “The solution involves healing the wounds. Catalonia is a place where everyone can be different without anyone feeling better than anyone else. And in order to restore this harmony, we need to be able to count on the deal-oriented Catalanism that has managed to make its own achievements universal.”