Catalans given deadline to declare independence

Catalans given deadline to declare independence

This is seen as a threat that the Madrid government could limit or rescind autonomy in the north-east region.

The Prime Minister would be likely to call a snap regional election after activating the constitutional mechanism allowing him to do so.

Mr Rajoy's demand was in response to Mr Puigdemont's announcement that he was proceeding with a declaration of independence following the disputed secession referendum Catalonia held on October 1, but suspending the move for several weeks to facilitate negotiations.

"Rajoy has two objectives: if Puigdemont remains ambiguous, the pro-independence movement will get more fragmented; if Puigdemont insists on defending independence then Rajoy will be able to apply Article 155", said Antonio Barroso, deputy director of the London-based research firm Teneo Intelligence.

Political analysts watching the issue commented that Catalan leaders are now facing a conundrum with Rajoy's declaration and the nature of its declaration of independence.

"There is no possible mediation between democratic law and disobedience and unlawfulness", Mr Rajoy said.

A spokesman for the Catalan government in Barcelona said earlier on Wednesday that if Madrid went down this road, it would press ahead with steps towards statehood.

"We have given up absolutely nothing".

Opposition parties have expressed their support over Rajoy's stance over the issue as socialist opposition leader Pedro Sanchez said that he will be supporting Rajoy if he does end up triggering Article 155 and he also agreed with the Prime Minister in opening a constitutional reform within a 6-month period in order to help Catalonia fit in Spain. "We have taken a time out. which doesn't mean a step backwards, or a renunciation or anything like that", Catalan Government spokesman Jordi Turull said.

The central government "wants to offer certainty to citizens" and it was "necessary to return tranquillity and calm", he added.

Under that article, the central government could take control of the governance of a region, a never-before used provision that has been referred to as the "nuclear option".

This would begin with a Cabinet meeting and a warning to the regional government to fall into line.

Some 2.3 million Catalans - or 43 per cent of the electorate in the north-eastern region - voted in the referendum.

"I would like to point out that in Catalonia, there is not a majority of people in favour of separatism".

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