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Spain gives Catalan leader 8 days to drop independence
12 October 2017, 10:36 | Opal Carroll
Spain threatens to suspend Catalonia's autonomy in crisis
He did not refer to the violence with which police cracked down on voting day but said "nobody can be proud of the image" Spain projected, adding the only ones to blame were the Catalan leaders.
"A full declaration of independence would have been very problematic, would have led to obvious confrontation with Madrid and he [Catalan President Carles Puigdemont] was under enormous pressure not to declare independence, including I assume from the countries that Catalonia would look to for recognition", he said.
If independence had been declared, said Sánchez, then the PSOE would back the actions of the Spanish government.
The country is in the midst of its worst political crisis in a generation after separatists in the wealthy northeastern region voted in a banned referendum on October 1 to split from Spain.
The political deadlock has plunged Spain into its deepest political crisis in more than four decades, since democratic rule was restored following the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. Spanish police, ordered to prevent the referendum, clashed with voters and supporters, and Catalan officials said over 900 people were injured.
Puigdemont said the referendum had given him a mandate for independence but immediately asked regional lawmakers to suspend the declaration to allow for negotiations with the central government.
Neither Mr. Puigdemont nor anybody else can impose, without returning to legality and democracy, a mediation, since dialogue between democrats is done within the law, as affirmed by Saenz de Santamaria.
Issuing a veiled threat, Rajoy stated that the clarification was needed to invoke article 155 of the Spanish constitution that would allow Spain to intervene and take control of some or all of Catalonia's regional powers.
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.
Spain's 10-year government bond yield - which moves inversely to the price - dropped 5 basis points to 1.65 percent in early trade, according to Tradeweb data.
With tempers running high in the region, closing the Catalan parliament and presumably arresting secessionist leaders risks catapulting the crisis along more violent lines, fear some analysts. The EU has been cool to Puigdemont's calls for European mediation.
Some of Catalonia's largest companies have moved their head offices out of the region and others were set to follow if Puigdemont had declared independence.
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