Spain's stance hardens as final deadline for Catalonia approaches
The Spanish government does not appear to be wavering in its ultimatum to Catalan separatists, as Mariano Rajoy’s Thursday deadline for clarification on the independence issue draws near.
Rajoy told Catalan president Carles Puigdemont to clearly communicate whether he had declared independence earlier this month during a speech in the regional parliament, with Puigdemont so far ignoring the question.
Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría reiterated the government’s plan to suspend the region’s autonomy if Puigdemont stayed on the current course.
"The government sent Puigdemont a very simple question, and he has not been able to answer yes or no. The requirement runs out tomorrow, and if it is not respected we will be forced to activate Article 155," the deputy PM said.
Article 155 of the Spanish constitution allows the central government to remove the right of autonomy, in part or whole, if one of its provinces does not comply with the constitution.
She added that such a move would be necessary in order to "preserve the economic recovery, as Catalonia is at the door of recession."
Two prominent separatist leaders were arrested this week, with Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart both being accused of sedition.
The arrests sparked a series of protests in Catalonia, where there has been unrest since the independence referendum on 1 October.