Spain and Catalonia set for showdown over independence bid

Catalonia is facing an unprecedented move by Madrid to seek a suspension of the region’s autonomy this morning, unless seperatist leader Carles Puigdemont abandons his bid for independence

Mr Puigdemont, who sparked Spains’s worst political crisis in decades by holding a banned independence referendum on October 1, has been ordered by Madrid to say by 10.00 am (9am BST) whether or not he is unilaterally declaring a split from Spain.

The government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says it will trigger Article 155 of Spain’s constitution – a measure that would allow it to start imposing direct rule over semi-autonomous Catalonia – unless Mr Puigdemont backs down.

Catalonia is deeply divided over whether to break away from Spain as Puigdemont has repeatedly threatened since the referendum, but the wealthy northeastern region is proud of its autonomy in one of the Western world’s most decentralised nations.

There are fears that moving to impose direct rule could further aggravate a crisis that has worried investors and added to the woes of a European Union already grappling with Brexit.

Catalans have grown increasingly frustrated with politicians’ failure to find a way out of the deadlock, while the prolonged uncertainty is taking a toll on one of Spain’s most important regional economies.

More than 800 companies have moved their headquarters out of Catalonia in a bid to minimise the instability, while the national government has cut its growth forecast to 2.3 percent next year, pointing blame at the crisis.

Separatists argue that Catalonia, which represents about a fifth of Spain’s economic output, pours more into the national coffers than it gets back and would prosper if it went its own way.

But opponents say the region has more clout as part of a bigger Spain and that the instability could be disastrous for its economy. (Telegraph)

Leave a Reply