Will Catalonia’s president declare independence?
Puigdemont to address MPs in much-anticipated session on Tuesday evening
Catalonia’s President Carles Puigdemont is to hold a crucial parliamentary session tomorrow but no one - perhaps not even him - knows yet whether he will defy Madrid and make a unilateral declaration of independence following the disputed referendum result.
Spanish state broadcaster TVE speculated that the Catalan leader will go ahead with the declaration, after 90% of voters in the 1 October plebiscite backed a split from Spain. Meanwhile, the Financial Times says Puigdemont could opt for a “so-called independence lite scenario”, in which the region will attempt to devolve further from Spain and engage in dialogue with Madrid and Europe.
Alternately, he might call for snap regional elections and “try to turn them into a de facto referendum on independence”, the FT says - adding that these more moderate options would allow Puigdemont to “save face and keep the flame of the independence movement alive” without the chaos of an immediate declaration.
Madrid will act if Catalan separatist leaders declare independence, Spain’s deputy prime minister says. Soraya Saenz de Santamaria told COPE radio that “if they declare independence, there will be decisions to restore the law and democracy”, reports the Sky News website.
Asked if Spain was risking a civil war, MP Francisco Martinez Vazquez, the former security minister, said he hoped the regional government will “step back from what they are doing”. The central Spanish government will intervene to “protect the nation” if Catalonia declares independence, Vazquez said, according to The Independent.
Madrid's prosecutor has not ruled out arresting Puigemont, says The Daily Telegraph.
The country’s King Felipe VI has appeared to hint that the triggering of Article 155 of Spain’s Constitution - which allows the central government to remove autonomy from Catalonia - is not out of the question. “It is the purpose of the legitimate powers of the state to make sure that constitutional order is abided by," he said following the independence referendum.