Spanish Government Remains Inflexible, Rejects Negotiating with Catalan Separatists
Spain’s constitutional court has blocked a session of the Catalan Parliament a bid to stop the region’s lawmakers from declaring independence on Monday. Fearing economic turmoil, some Catalan companies announce they are moving headquarters out of Catalonia.
Four days after the controversial referendum for independence in Catalonia (the northeastern Spanish region whose capital is Barcelona), the tensions between the central government and the catalan separatists remain the same.
On Thursday, Spain’s constitutional court blocked a session of the Catalan Parliament a bid to stop the region’s lawmakers from declaring independence on Monday. In addition, a punch of Catalan companies - including Banc Sabadell, one of the main banks- announced they are moving headquarters out of Catalonia in fear of economic turmoil. The separatist movement also puts in danger that Barcelona becomes the new headquarter of the European Medicament Agency, an organisation that decided to move out from London after Brexit. Barcelona is one of the favourite candidates to host this organisation, which would bring a lot of talent and high level jobs to the city.
Despite Catalan separatist goverment has called for dialogue and mediation, the Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy remains adamant in rejecting to talk with a regional government that did not respect the law and threatens to make a unilateral declaration of independence.
According to Madrid, the referendum held last Sunday was inconstitutional. The Catalan government estimates that 42% of popular participation, and "yes" won by 90%. However, they haven't 'officially" announced the results.
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont seems to be "buying time" for negotiation. According to a disputed law passed by the Catalan parliament last month, once the Catalan parliament announces the official results of the referendum, Puigdemont has 48 hours to make an unilateral declaration of independence.
Despite the independentist movement has gained a lot of popularity in the last 4 years, more and more Catalans see the option of an unliteral declaration of independence as "suicidal." On Monday, the Spanish stock market plunged to record figures, with Catalan banks leading the plunge. Yesterday, Banc Sabadell, one of Catalonia leading banks, announced it is moving his headquarters out of Catalonia. Caixa Bank, biggest financial institution of Spain, also said it will decide today wheter they move out or not from Barcelona to Mallorca.
In an interview with EFE, prime minister Mariano Rajoy, leader of the conservative Popular Party, said he would take heed of all opinions on how to deal with authorities pushing for independence in Catalonia, but insisted that the final decisions would come down to him and that he would do what he thought was best for the country.
Rajoy said he was "absolutely" convinced that Spain could return to normality, given that it had overcome difficult situations in the past.
In the past days, Rajoy government has been criticized for the brutality used by the Spanish police to stop the referendum. A week before the referendum, the Central Government ordered to deploy hundreds of Spanish police and Guardia Civil agents to Catalonia (which has its own regional police) to confiscate ballots, urns and electoral propaganda. On Sunday, the day of the illegal referendum, the Spanish anti-riot forces showed up in electoral schools with truncheons and rubber ball riffles against civilians armed only with paper ballots. "We will vote, we will vote," people shouted at the police. The images of gratuitous violence conducted by the Spanish police made it to international media cover pages. However, the spanish central government sticks to the speech that "police did what it had to do", that is, following instructions of the Justice to stop the referendum.
The violence shown by police sparked demonstrations and protests in Barcelona, where thousands took into the streets on Tuesday to protest against a central government that has historically refused to listen to Catalonia's demands.