March 23, 2018

Former Catalan leader fears violence on the streets if army sent in

06 October 2017, 12:41 | Marta Robbins

People placed flowers outside polling stations which had been sites of violent clashes during the vote

People placed flowers outside polling stations which had been sites of violent clashes during the vote

The crisis comes after Catalonia held a controversial and illegal vote at the weekend on splitting from Spain. The referendum and its legal framework had been put on ice by Spain's Constitutional Court, the reason why the parliament's legal counselors say the session should be halted.

But the government statement late Wednesday said there could be no mediation unless Puigdemont backs down.

"If the Catalonia referendum goes ahead, we expect this to be a disruptive event for the euro, with the potential for a sharp decline of up to 5% initially in the single currency if the separatists win", Kathleen Brooks, research director at City Index, told the Daily Express last week.

"We are told the European Union stands for peace, democracy and human rights". We have to apply the results of the referendum.

Spain regards the referendum as unconstitutional, and sent thousands of police officers to stop residents from voting.

- Spanish Prime Minister calls on Catalonia to retreat to avoid greater evils.

"Is there a solution?"

Spanish shares and bonds, which have been hit by the political turmoil in Catalonia, strengthened after the news of the Constitutional Court's decision. Constitutional Court bans session of Catalan parliament due on Monday.

In an interview with the German newspaper Bild on Thursday, Puigdemont said he had not discounted the possibility that he could be arrested, but said he was not afraid.

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The head of the main Catalan business lobby, Joaquim Gay de Montella, said unilateral independence would be "a mistake for the Catalan and Spanish economy and business in general".

The Spanish government must also decide its next steps.

The Spanish state can also cut funding and put pressure on civil servants whom it now pays directly, having already tightened control over Catalonia's finances.

Earlier on Tuesday night, Spain's King Felipe VI made an emergency speech where he took an uncompromising line, accusing the Catalan government of flouting the law and seeking to "break the unity of Spain".

Rajoy, who has firm support from the king, said: "These criticisms [of the king] show that Mr Puigdemont is not only against the law, but out of reality".

"If you dare to use the council meeting to talk about peace or democracy without standing clearly for those values in Catalonia then the people of Europe - the people of the world - will rightly consider you to be nothing more than a shower of hypocrites".

"The king endorses the discourse and policies of the government of [prime minister Mariano] Rajoy, which has been catastrophic for Catalonia and deliberately ignore the millions of Catalans who do not think like them", Puigdemont said in a televised statement.

And according to opinion polls, 80 percent of Catalans want to vote in a legal referendum, even if less than half are actually in favour of independence. Of those who voted, some 90 percent voted yes to independence but they are still just 40 percent of the region's total number of voters.

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