The Latest: VP: Spain ‘gives us no option’ but to secede
MADRID (AP) — The Latest on Catalonia’s independence bid (all times local):
Catalonia’s vice president says Spanish authorities are giving separatists in the prosperous northeastern region “no other option” but to push ahead with proclaiming a new republic.
Oriol Junqueras told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his party —one of two in the ruling separatist Catalan coalition— is “going to work toward building a republic, because we understand that there is a democratic mandate to establish such a republic.”
But Junqueras insisted he was speaking on behalf of his Republican Left party and not for the regional government of President Carles Puigdemont. He said the Spanish government “is giving us no other option.”
His remarks come amid frantic jockeying in the Catalan government on how to respond to plans by Spanish authorities to fire them and directly manage the region’s affairs.
Catalan media has strongly criticized plans by the Spanish government to take control of the outlets as part of a move to invoke constitutional authority over Catalonia following the region’s push for independence.
A joint statement by TV3, Catalunya Radio and the news agency ACN Wednesday described the plan as “a direct attack on the citizens of Catalonia.”
The statement, read out in six languages by television and radio anchors during a news conference, said Catalan public media was highly trusted and rated, and the Spanish government’s threat to take control was “a denial of the right to true, objective, pluralistic, balanced information.”
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is seeking to invoke constitutional authority over Catalonia. Spain’s Senate is expected to approve the measures Friday.
Political representatives in Catalonia say regional President Carles Puigdemont doesn’t plan to appear before the Spain Senate to defend his push for independence and to argue against the central government’s move to sack him and his ministers.
Regional party officials said Catalonia’s parliament speaker informed their representatives Wednesday that Puigdemont instead would attend the regional body’s session on Thursday to press forward with the secession effort.
The officials from several parliament parties spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with internal party regulations.
Spanish media have reported that Puigdemont might appear before a Senate commission that has been tasked with reviewing Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s request for constitutional authority to remove Catalan leaders from office and take over the regional government temporarily.
The Senate is expected to approve the measures on Friday.
— By Ciaran Giles
Credit ratings agency DBRS is warning that the uncertainty surrounding Catalonia’s independence bid is hurting the region’s economy and could become a drag on Spain’s economy and weigh on public finances.
DBRS says the political turmoil brought by Catalonia’s standoff with the national government “is discouraging investment and tourism in the region.”
With Catalonia representing about one-fifth of Spain’s annual GDP, any slowdown in the region would bring consequences for the national economy.
The Spanish government has revised downwards its growth forecast for 2018 to 2.3 percent from 2.6 percent, largely because of doubts over Catalonia’s future.
DBRS says the effects on the national economy will be “manageable,” however, unless the crisis becomes protracted.
Spain’s prime minister says the government’s plans to take unprecedented control of Catalonia’s key affairs and halt that region’s push for independence are “exceptional” and he hopes they will not last long.
Mariano Rajoy told Parliament on Wednesday that the application of the Constitution’s Article 155 is the “only possible” response to restore the region’s legality, which he said has been liquidated by Catalan President Carles Puigdemont’s push to secede.
Rajoy says he hopes the measures planned, including the sacking of Puigdemont’s government and curtailment of Catalan parliament’s powers, will be brief. He says they should end with regional elections that he hopes can be held as soon as possible but only once law and order is restored.
Spain’s Senate is expected to approve the measures Friday.