Catalan president shows disappointment with self-government suspension threat
Puigdemont given five days to confirm if he declared independence and three to rectify
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont showed disappointment with the Spanish government threat to suspend Catalonia's self-government. "You ask for dialogue and they respond by putting article 155 on the table. Understood," Puigdemont tweeted on Wednesday evening, after the Spanish government made the first legal step to suspend the autonomy of Catalonia, asking him to confirm whether or not he declared independence.
Catalan president fail short to declare full independence in his speech in Parliament on Tuesday. In fact, Puigdemont said he was "suspending" the declaration "for a few weeks" in order to be able to engage in "negotiations" with Madrid. Puigdemont also urged international mediation to find a peaceful and political solution to the current stalemate.
The Spanish government, however, refused international mediation and said that dialogue can only start if Catalan institutions respect the Spanish legal framework and Constitution and give up on self-determination. Moreover, the Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy, gave Puigdemont five days to confirm whether or not he had declared independence and three to rectify. If not, he would press the nuclear button: article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.
What is article 155?
Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution allows the central government to take control of a region if it "does not fulfil the obligations imposed upon it by the Constitution" or "acts in a way that is seriously prejudicial to the general interest of Spain."
The process starts with lodging "a complaint to the President of the self-governing community," such as the letter sent on Wednesday to Carles Puigdemont, in which the Spanish government asked him whether or not he had declared independence.
If the answer does not satisfy the Spanish executive, "following approval granted by the overall majority of the Senate" Madrid can take control of the Catalan government.
The Catalan minister for Territory and Sustainability, Josep Rull, said on Thursday that Catalonia is "being threatened" by Madrid. "Right now, Catalonia is being threatened when it should be listened to," he said during comments to the press.
According to Rull, it is "bad news" that both Spanish the conservatives and socialists agree on applying article 155, instead of engaging in negotiations.
But the leader of the Spanish socialists, Pedro Sánchez, said in a radio interview that it seems like it’s actually the Catalan government that wants its self-government to be suspended. "No one wants to activate article 155," he said, pointing out, however, that Catalan leaders have "put Catalonia outside the law." Sánchez urged Puigdemont to "clarify what he said" on Tuesday in Parliament.