Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has condemned reports that Catalonia had prepared a law of secession from Spain to be enacted if the region is not allowed to hold an independence referendum.
The El Pais newspaper said that the draft law envisaged establishing a republic, taking immediate control of the judiciary in the region, and seizing state property in Catalonia.
The Prime Minister demanded that Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont present the draft to the Spanish Parliament and appear there to answer his charge of blackmail.
“We won’t stop”
As far-right groups chanted “long live Spain” and “separatists terrorists” outside, Carles Puigdemont made a rare speech in Mardrid’s town hall, dismissing the invitation to debate the matter in Parliament as a “farce”.
“We won’t stop until the Catalans vote on their political future, the political future of Catalonia. This will happen despite the Spanish government saying no to everything. Despite all the obstacles that we may encounter – we don’t have the right or legitimacy to not fulfil our mandate.”
KRLS</a> in Madrid: "We will never surrender in our intention of allowing Catalans to vote" <a href="https://t.co/6nlZp4MDjj">https://t.co/6nlZp4MDjj</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ReferendumCAT?src=hash">#ReferendumCAT</a> <a href="https://t.co/XxBd5zXekG">pic.twitter.com/XxBd5zXekG</a></p>— Catalan Government (catalangov) May 22, 2017
“blackmail and threat”
Centre-right Mariano Rahoy, who has said that he is open to dialogue but that an independence vote would be illegal under the current constitution, described the situation as “unacceptable”.
“In the People’s Party we believe the proper functioning of democracy demands going to parliament. The blackmail and threat put on top of the table is intolerable and I can tell the Spanish people that it will not come into effect. National sovereignty will continue being national sovereignty whilst the majority of Spaniards wish it to be so.”
Earlier this year a Spanish court banned a former Catalan leader from holding office for two years as punishment for having organised a symbolic, non-binding independence referendum in 2014.
Puigdemont is said to be determined to hold a referendum before the end of September this year, whether the Spanish Prime Minister recognises it or not.