Spain Evaluates Response to Catalan Secessionist Challenge

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His move could deepen the confrontation between Madrid and the northeastern region but also signals a way out of Spain's biggest political crisis since a failed military coup in 1981. "This request, which comes before any of the measures that the government could adopt under article 155 of our constitution, is meant to offer our citizens the clarity and security that such an important issue requires".

The Catalan President Carles Puigdemont told the regional parliament on Tuesday that support for independence in the October 1 referendum had earned Catalonia the right to become a separate state.

To get there would require pressure from Spain's European Union partners, said Ross, who advised the Catalan government from July 2013 to September 2015 and is a committed advocate of self-determination. If Puigdemont was to confirm he did declare independence, he would be given an additional three days to rectify it, until Thursday, October 19 at 9:00 a.m. London time. Failing this, Article 155 would be triggered. On Tuesday night, many among the pro-independence crowd waiting outside the Catalan parliament also expressed dismay that Puigdemont had not declared immediate self-rule, and some booed the 54-year-old former journalist when he left the building.

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If independence had been declared, said Sánchez, then the PSOE would back the actions of the Spanish government.

Under Catalonia's referendum law, deemed unconstitutional by Madrid, a vote for independence would start a six-month process that would envisage divorce talks with Spain before regional elections and a final act of separation.

In a speech to the regional parliament, Puigdemont assumed the "mandate of the people" for that autonomous community to become an independent state as a republic. Central authorities in Madrid had declared the referendum illegal and most opponents of independence boycotted it, reducing turnout to around 43 percent. Rajoy has said he will not negotiate on anything until the separatists abandon their independence drive, and rejected calls for mediation in the crisis.

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"Neither Mr. Puigdemont nor anyone else can claim, without returning to legality and democracy, to impose mediation".

The political deadlock has plunged Spain into its deepest political crisis in more than four decades, since democratic rule was restored following the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

A spokesman for the Catalan government in Barcelona said earlier on Wednesday that if Madrid went down this road, it would press ahead with steps towards statehood.

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