In Brief

Catalonia independence: Spanish PM calls for end to ‘radicalism’

Protests spread following crackdown over Catalonian independence vote

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has used a televised address to urge Catalan separatists to stop the region’s banned independence referendum from going ahead on 1 October.

“I call on them to end their illegal actions, to abandon their plans, they know this referendum cannot be held,” Rajoy said. “Stop this escalation of radicalism and disobedience once and for all.”

His comments came after thousands of people took to the streets in Barcelona to protest against Madrid’s efforts to halt the referendum, which the Spanish government has deemed illegal.

“Spanish Guardia Civil officers raided a dozen Catalan regional government offices and arrested 14 senior officials on Wednesday as part of an operation to stop the referendum from taking place,” The Guardian says. They included Josep Maria Jove, Catalonia's deputy vice president.

The president, Carles Puigdemont, “accused the central government of effectively suspending devolution after it moved to seize control of regional finances to stop them being used to fund the referendum”, reports the BBC.

“We believe that the Spanish government has crossed the red line that separated it from repressive authoritarian regimes and has become a democratic shame,” he said.

If the referendum does go ahead on 1 October, it remains unlikely that Spain’s largest economic region would back a breakaway.

“Just 35% said Catalonia should be independent in a July survey by the Catalan government’s polling agency,” says Bloomberg.

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