Spanish PM defends article in senate that would suspend autonomy of Catalan region

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-27 19:30:55|Editor: Zhou Xin
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MADRID, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy addressed the senate Friday to defend the application of Article 155 of the constitution, which would suspend the autonomy of the Catalan region in northeast Spain.

The measure, which has never been previously used, would see Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont sacked, control of key Catalan institutions given to Madrid, and new elections in the region called within six months.

With Rajoy's Peoples' Party (PP) holding a large majority in the senate, there is no doubt that the article will be approved Friday and unless there are last-minute talks between the Catalan government and Madrid, it will begin to be put into effect Saturday.

Rajoy told senators that Spain was "facing an exceptional decision which is because the situation is also exceptional and with serious consequences for many people."

He described the Catalan independence referendum held on Oct. 1, which was declared illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court, as "the biggest mockery of democracy since the constitution was approved."

"The constitutional court has been ignored ... And it has been a process of continued anti-democratic decisions, against the law and Spanish and European values," Rajoy added.

He said the application of Article 155 had "many reasons behind it and the exceptional measures should only be carried out when there is no other possible solution."

The prime minister added that the aim of the article was to return to legality, recover confidence, maintain the high levels of economic growth and job creation, and hold elections in a situation of normality.

He also explained his apparent unwillingness to talk to Puigdemont, saying "dialogue has two enemies."

"The first is that it mistreats the laws, it ignores and doesn't obey them, because laws are the result of dialogue between everyone. The second is that one person only wants to listen to himself and not understand or want to understand the other," he said.

The Catalan "Parliament" will meet in Barcelona to discuss its response to the application of Article 155. This session comes a day after Puigdemont said he would not call new elections in the region, when that had seemed the most likely option Thursday morning.

Puigdemont's JxSi alliance has presented a proposal for the "formation of a Catalan Republic as an independent State," which would mean a declaration of independence.

The Spanish state prosecutor's office responded to that possibility by saying it would present charges of "rebellion" against Puigdemont, his deputy Oriol Junqueras and the rest of the Catalan executive.