Spanish Prime Minister wows to prevent Catalan independence

Violet Powell
October 9, 2017

Similar unity rallies were held across Spain on Saturday.

Daniel Hoegger, senior policy fellow at the Swiss-based think tank Forum on Foreign Policy, believes that the declaration of the independence will probably lead to an even more tense situation between Barcelona and Madrid, which will be unlikely resolved soon because of incompatibility with Spanish laws. The "Yes" side won with 90 percent with less than half the electorate polled.

The weekend's goal: to demand that leaders on both sides of an increasingly intense conflict, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont, begin a dialog.

The clearest indication yet of what Catalonia will do with the vote results comes as hundreds of thousands of people rallied in downtown Barcelona to protest against their regional government's secession plan.

There are also a number of citizens that are open to negotiations, says Oriol Bartomeu, a political scientist at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. "It's the moment to listen to the people who are asking for the problem to be solved through an agreement, and without precipitated and unilateral decisions". The ruling People's Party, the opposition socialists and other parties have urged their supporters to take part.

GettyTens of thousands rallied against the region's independence bid from Spain.

Spanish unionists in Catalonia finally found their voice on Sunday, resurrecting the Spanish flag as a symbol of patriotism after decades of it being associated with the Franco dictatorship. Pro-union forces will try to generate momentum on Sunday in a protest in Barcelona. Some of the demonstrators took to rooftops, including families with children, and leaned over ledges from their perches overlooking the streets below to wave giant Spanish flags in a city accustomed to the prevalence of the Catalan "estelada".

There have been several claims of irregularities, and many ballot boxes were seized by the Spanish police.

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Hundreds of thousands of separatists also took to the streets last Tuesday during a general strike, in protest of Spain's crackdown during the vote. Then came the stern message from Spain's King Felipe VI that the Catalan government and parliament were breaking the law.

Some chanted "Don't be fooled, Catalonia is Spain" and called for Puigdemont to go to prison. Other companies are reportedly considering leaving Catalonia to avoid being cast out of the European Union and its common market in the case of secession.

He added: "I want to say something with absolute clarity - while the threat of independence is in the political landscape, it will be very hard for the government to not take these decisions".

Santi Vila, Catalonia's regional chief for business, told Cadena SER Radio late Friday that he's pushing for "a new opportunity for dialogue" with Spanish authorities.

Fundacion La Caixa and Criteria also announced they move away from Catalonia to Palma de Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands.

It is unclear how widespread Vila's moderate position is inside the Catalan government, which is being pressured by separatist grassroots groups and the far-left party CUP to declare independence soon.

Spain's Constitutional Court suspended the referendum law shortly after it was passed while it considers arguments that it is unconstitutional.

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has pledged to push ahead for independence.

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