Carles Puigdemont says Catalonia will declare its independence from Spain in the coming days, as tensions reach breaking point.
The BBC has reported that Catalonia leader Carles Puigdemont will declare independence from Spain by “the end of this week or the beginning of next”.
In the interview with BBC, Puigdemont — who is the President of the Catalonia government, and driving figurehead behind the independence movement — also said that if the Spanish government was to intervene it would be “an error that changes everything”.
Earlier yesterday, hundreds of thousands of people had gathered in the centre of Barcelona to protest what Puigdemont described as “unjustified, disproportionate and irresponsible” violence at the Catalan referendum vote on Sunday, as well as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s dismissal of the vote as “illegal”.
King Felipe made an address in response to the strike, accusing the Catalan government of breaking the law. “They have broken the democratic principles of the rule of law… With their irresponsible conduct they could put at risk the economic and social stability of Catalonia and all of Spain,” he said on national television.
BBC News reporter Patrick Jackson, painted a picture of the scenes in Barcelona (the capital of Catalonia) as King Felipe wrapped up his speech.
“When the speech ended, customers in this city centre bar thumped tables and whistled contemptuously, then quickly resumed normal conversation – King Felipe may as well have not spoken,” he wrote.
“It was the things he omitted that rankled – no words about those shocking scenes of police beating voters on Sunday, no urgent appeal for dialogue between the Spanish and Catalan governments, no acknowledgment of the real hunger here for independence or at least a proper, legal referendum, not even a word or two of Catalan. Instead, he expressed the position of the government, echoing its firm opposition to the vote, saying Catalan leaders had positioned themselves outside the law.”
When the speech ended, customers in this city centre bar thumped tables and whistled contemptuously, then quickly resumed normal conversation – King Felipe may as well have not spoken
While no official count has been released, the Catalan government — which presides over a population of more than 7 million — has said that 90 per cent of the referendum voters were in favour of breaking away, but only 40 per cent of potential voters actually made it to the polling booths.