Catalonia warns of civil disobedience as
Madrid readies direct rule
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[October 23, 2017]
By Paul Day
MADRID (Reuters) - Catalonia said on Monday
it was confident all officials including police would defy attempts by
Madrid to enforce direct rule on the region, in an escalating dispute
that has raised fears of unrest among Spain's European allies.
The Spanish government has invoked special constitutional powers to fire
the regional government and force a new election to counter an
independence drive that has rattled the economy. A vote in the Senate to
implement direct rule is due on Friday.
But the leaders of the secessionist campaign said a disputed referendum
on Oct. 1 gave them the mandate to claim independence from the rest of
"It's not that we will refuse (orders). It is not a personal decision.
It is a seven million-person decision," Catalonia's foreign affairs
chief Raul Romeva told BBC radio.
Romeva was asked whether he believed all institutions, including the
police, would follow orders from Catalan institutions rather than from
the Spanish government.
"And from that perspective, I have no doubt that all civil servants in
Catalonia will keep following the instructions provided by the elected
and legitimate institutions that we have right now in place (in
Catalonia)," he said.
Catalan authorities said about 90 percent of those who took part in the
referendum on Oct. 1 voted for independence. But only 43 percent of the
electorate and 1 in 3 Catalans participated, with most opponents of
secession staying at home.
The Catalan crisis has raised fears among European countries that it
could spill over to the rest of the continent.
From Scotland to Flanders and Lombardy, the 2007-09 financial crisis,
unemployment and migration have allowed anti-EU and populist parties to
feed off discontent with political elites and reopen regional divisions.
Two wealthy regions of northern Italy voted overwhelmingly on Sunday for
At a European summit last week, leaders sought to minimize Spain's
crisis with Catalonia and described the secession bid as a domestic
"NO DIVINE AUTHORITY"
Civil disobedience was also backed by far-left party CUP, a key support
for Catalonia's pro-independence minority government in the regional
parliament, which called Madrid's actions an aggression against all
"An aggression which will be met with massive civil disobedience," the
CUP said in a statement.
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Speaker of the Catalan regional Parliament Carme Forcadell is seen
after presiding over the parties' spokespersons board meeting at the
Parliament in Barcelona, Spain October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan
Several hundred Catalan municipalities said they were against direct
rule from Madrid and asked the Catalan parliament to vote on a
motion rejecting it.
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has called the Catalan
parliament to meet this week to agree on a response to Madrid,
something many observers said could pave the way for a formal
declaration of independence.
The assembly will meet on Thursday to agree a response to direct
Several influential Catalan newspapers called on Puidgemont on
Sunday to resolve the crisis by calling a snap election before
direct rule becomes effective. However, Catalan government spokesman
Jordi Turull said this was not an option.
It is not clear whether a vote in the region would help resolve the
An opinion poll published by the El Periodico newspaper on Sunday
showed a snap election would probably have results similar to the
last ballot, in 2015, when a coalition of pro-independence parties
formed a minority government.
Spain's Deputy Prime Minister said Puigdemont would be out of a job
once direct rule was enforced and Madrid would install its own
representative. The Spanish government has said it would call a
regional election within six months.
"They are president of the regional government and senior figures in
that government because of the constitution," said Soraya Saenz de
Santamaria during a radio interview.
"They are not entrusted with that role by any divine authority," she
(Writing by Julien Toyer; additional reporting by Alistair Smout;
editing by Ralph Boulton)
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