ON Friday October 16 Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister, criticised Catalan leader Artur Mas’refusal to answer questions regarding an informal referendum for independence in his court appearance on Thursday.
The Catalan leader did not answer prosecutors’ questions on the referendum which the Catalan government has labelled a “popular consultation.” He did say that he was solely responsible for the organisation of the ballot and gave a press conference after the court appearance where he said that the legal action was politically motivated.
Now the Deputy Prime Minister has spoken frankly about his court appearance:
“I think Mas believes he is sole defender of democracy, but I say democracy involves following the law and respecting the judiciary.”
Santamaria said that everyone in Spain is “subjected to the law and the courts.”
“With what power and strength can he demand that Catalans respect the rules of their regional parliament when he himself doesn’t even respect the laws?” she added.
Thursday’s court appearance by Mas saw thousands of pro independence demonstrators outside the Barcelona courthouse to support him before he walked inside.
As the situation in Catalonia escalates before the elections in December the Deputy Prime Minister was asked if the government would consider applying an article of the Constitution which would effectively suspend the Catalan government’s powers.
Article 155 provides the government with the option of “taking the measures necessary in order to compel” a region to “fulfil the obligations imposed upon it by the Constitution or other laws.”
Santamaria said that such an action would not take place without the backing of Congress.