Catalonia to call snap regional election

  • 27/10/2017
People wave Catalan separatist flags during a demonstration organised by Catalan pro-independence movements ANC (Catalan National Assembly) and Omnium Cutural, following the imprisonment of their two leaders Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart,  in Barcelona, Spain, October 21, 2017.  REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes - RC1C8CD92250
Photo credit: Reuters

Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont is reportedly set to call a snap regional election for December 20 in a move that could help break a one-month deadlock between Madrid and Catalan separatists seeking independence from Spain.

Barcelona-based La Vanguardia said Puigdemont had taken the decision in a bid to convince the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy not to enforce direct rule in the region.

Mr Puigdemont will deliver an address later on Thursday, his office said.

Calling an election could either strengthen Mr Puigdemont's mandate if pro-independence parties won, or allow him a graceful exit if they did not.

But it could also heighten divisions within the secessionist camp and bring the current campaign to a halt.

Cracks appeared late on Thursday (local time) in the secessionist coalition as members backed a vote while others said there was no alternative to independence.

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.

Earlier Mr Puigdemont rejected an offer to appear in person at the Spanish Senate on Thursday.

Mr Puigdemont instead sent a letter just ahead of a deadline in which he accused the Spanish government of overstepping the limits of a constitutional mechanism that aims to strip Catalonia of its autonomy.

"In order to resolve what the Spanish government has qualified a grave extraordinary situation, it is going to create an even more grave extraordinary situation by robbing Catalonia of its political autonomy," read the letter, which was delivered three minutes before the 10am deadline.