Monday

20th Nov 2017

Catalan leader spurns regional elections

  • Carles Puigdemont argued that there was "no guarantee that justifies the convocation of elections." (Photo: president.cat)

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has rejected calling new elections in Catalonia and put the blame for the continuing deadlock on the Spanish government's "irresponsibility".

In a short address in the Palau de la Generalitat, the Catalan government's building in Barcelona, Puigdemont said there was "no guarantee that justifies the convocation of elections."

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He said it was "impossible" to organise a vote.

Puigdemont said he wanted to avoid the application of article 155 of the Spanish constitution, under which the Spanish government would suspend Catalonia's autonomy, but that he had received no "responsible answer" from the Popular Party, the party of Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy.

Rajoy has called on Puigdemont to call regional elections as a way to avoid the application of article 155.

Puigdemont's address had first been planned for 1.30pm then postponed to 2.30pm, before being suspended and rescheduled for 5pm.

Until late in the afternoon, it was expected that the Catalan leader would call local elections for 20 December.

But he apparently came under pressure from allies and members of his PDeCat party, with some members of the Catalan parliament announcing that they would quit if he went ahead.

He said instead that it would be up to the Catalan parliament to decide how to respond to any decision to trigger article 155.

The parliament was due to meet later on Thursday, with a formal declaration of independence as one of the options.

Just after Puigdemont's address, the Spanish senate started to discuss the plan to apply article 155 that was presented by the government last Saturday.

A vote is planned on Friday to adopt the plan.

"We are fulfilling a legal, democratic and judicial obligation," deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said at the opening of the debate.

She said that the "political conflict" between Madrid and Barcelona was not due to separatism but due to a "show of irresponsibility that has increased the same way that intolerance has increased."

She said that Puigdemont was the one who had refused dialogue.

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