Spain will move forward with the process of suspending the powers of the Catalan government after Regional President Carles Puigdemont refused to drop his claim to independence.
The unprecedented decision by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government to directly intervene is bound to further inflame the conflict over the future of Spain’s biggest regional economy. Spanish stocks and bonds dropped on the news.
“The government will continue with the procedures set out in Article 155 of the Constitution to restore the legality of self- rule in Catalonia,” the government said in a statement. Spain’s deployed the ultimate constitutional weapon after Puigdemont said the regional parliament may declare independence unless the government in Madrid agreed to talks. Puigdemont’s response came to an ultimatum from Madrid to renounce his claims to independence by 10 a.m.
on Thursday. “If the central government persists in blocking dialogue and continues its repression, the Catalan Parliament may proceed, if it considers it appropriate, to approve a formal declaration of independence,” Puigdemont said in the letter. Puigdemont said that his request for a face-to-face meeting had been ignored, and that Spanish “repression” of Catalonia was being stepped up with the jailing of two separatist activists on Monday.
“My request for the repression to end has not been met either,” Puigdemont said. “On the contrary, it has increased.” Spain’s benchmark stock index was down 1 percent as of 10:26 a.m. in Madrid. Ten-year government bond yields rose 4 basis points to 1.65 percent.
In an address to the regional parliament in Barcelona last week, the Catalan president said that an Oct. 1 referendum held in breach of the Spanish constitution gave him the right to declare independence, but that he was suspending the drive for full autonomy in favor of dialogue.