Spanish PM would not rule out constitutional powers to block Catalan independence

Vastavam web: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Saturday he would not rule out using the constitutional powers to remove Catalonia’s autonomous status if it claimed independence as tens of thousands took to the streets to call for talks.The wealthy northeastern region of Catalonia, with its own language and culture, held a referendum on Oct. 1 on independence, in defiance of the Spanish constitutional court which had ruled the vote illegal.In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais on Saturday Rajoy was asked if he was ready to trigger the article 155 of the constitution, and said: “I don’t rule out absolutely anything that is within the law Ideally, it shouldn’t be necessary to implement extreme solutions but for that not to happen things would have to be changed.”
The Catalan authorities say around 90 percent of those who voted supported a split from Spain. Madrid says secession is illegal under the Spain’s 1978 constitution. Residents of Catalonia who oppose secession largely boycotted the vote.The crisis is a political test for Rajoy, who has been uncompromising. Some 900 people were injured during the vote when police tried to disrupt voting, firing rubber bullets and charging crowds with truncheons.
“I hope that the Catalonia that makes pacts, is moderate and for many years contributed to Spain’s economic growth and improvement in welfare and wealth returns. It can’t be in the hands of extremists, the radicals and the (far-left secessionist party) CUP,” he said.In Barcelona, protesters chanted “let’s talk” in Catalan, while many carried signs criticising political leaders for not finding a diplomatic solution to the impasse.“This is producing a social rupture in Catalonia and this has to be resolved through dialogue, never via unilateralism,” Jose Manuel Garcia, 61, an economist who attended the protest dressed in white said.