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Spanish government aims for January regional elections in Catalonia - PSOE

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Spanish government aims for January regional elections in Catalonia - PSOE

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The Spanish government has agreed with the country’s opposition Socialists (PSOE) to hold regional elections in Catalonia in January.

Socialist politician Carmen Calvo said the move was part of a package of extraordinary measures to temporarily impose direct rule on the region.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will hold a special cabinet meeting on Saturday to put in motion the process of suspending Catalonia’s autonomy.

On Thursday, Madrid announced it would suspend Catalonia’s self rule and impose direct rule after the region’s leader threatened to go ahead with a formal declaration of independence if Madrid refused to hold talks.

In an act unprecedented since Spain returned to democracy in the late 1970s, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he would hold a special cabinet meeting on Saturday that could trigger the move. The Socialist opposition said it backed the government but suggested the measures should be limited in scope and time.

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, ignoring a 10 a.m. deadline to drop his secession campaign, wrote a letter to Rajoy threatening a formal declaration of independence.

The war of words increased uncertainty over a standoff that has raised fears of social unrest, cut growth prospects for the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy and rattled the euro.