Crisis Over Catalan Independence Nears Crucial Few Days
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont kept friends and foes guessing on Wednesday on whether he intends to unilaterally declare independence as the Spanish government prepares to impose direct rule to stop the region breaking away, Reuters reports.
Puigdemont spurned an invitation to explain his position to the Senate in Madrid on Thursday – an indication of the rigid stands taken by both sides in Spain’s gravest political crisis since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975.
He also kept his silence on whether to call for a new regional election, a move which might prompt the Madrid government to postpone its plan to take over Catalonia’s institutions and police.
The next few days could prove crucial in the battle of wills that has followed an independence referendum on Oct. 1, which Madrid declared illegal and the Catalan government said endorsed its claim to statehood.
While it is not clear how the central government will take over in practical terms, nor how Catalan civil servants and police will react, some independence supporters have threatened a campaign of civil disobedience, raising the possibility of ugly confrontations.
The Catalan secessionist drive is the most serious existential challenge to a Western European country since the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, when voters in the end decided to stay part of the United Kingdom.
It has caused deep resentment elsewhere in Spain, caused a flight of business from the wealthy region, and worried other European leaders who see it as fanning separatist sentiment elsewhere on the continent.
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