Opposition parties call on Pedro Sanchez to impose direct rule on Cataluña and call elections

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FIGHTING TALK: Tense exchanges took place between party leaders (inset) in Congress today CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons


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THE leaders of Spain’s two largest opposition parties have called on the Prime Minister to impose direct rule on Cataluña and hold national election during parliamentary debates today (Wednesday).

Pablo Casado, of the conservative Partido Popular (PP), and the centrist Ciudadanos’ Albert Rivera both said Pedro Sanchez should trigger Article 155 in response to the ongoing Catalan independence push.

Article 155 was the constitutional mechanism used to suspend Cataluña’s regional government after last year’s failed independence push.

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Their comments come as Catalan Generalitat President Quim Torra said the region should aim to achieve independence through the ‘Slovenian Way’. His comments drew criticism with some claiming they were a subtle call for violent insurrection.

Pablo Casado told members of Spain’s Congress of Deputies that Sanchez’s left-leaning Partido Socialista (PSOE) government was increasingly responsible and complicit in internal Catalan politics.

“He admits he can do nothing because his remaining in office depends on votes from pro-independence politicians,” Casado said.

“Sanchez must act now on Cataluña and impose Article 155. He must also keep his word and be aware that his time is over. He must call general elections before it is too late for Spain,” the PP leader added.

Ciudadanos leader Rivera, whose party was founded in opposition to growing calls for Catalan independence, said Article 155 was necessary to protect security, democracy and freedom.

“I want to live in a country where citizens are guaranteed their freedom and security, where no ruler encourages violence and frightens democrats. That is the Spain in which I believe, where separatism cannot run amok,” Rivera said.

Sanchez said in response to Casado and Rivera that the only solution to the Catalan independence issue was through “co-existence”.

“No democratic political project deserves to endanger anything or anyone. In every society there are crises, but the only possible way to solve them is the constitutional way via the Statue of Cataluña,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez did not comment on the call for a general election but has repeatedly refused to hold them before the end of the current parliamentary term in 2020.

The comments come as Sanchez faces increasing pressure to act on Cataluña. The Prime Minister attempted to move away from the hard-line stance on independence taken by the previous PP government under Mariano Rajoy that culminated in Cataluña’s regional autonomy being suspended.

Sanchez attempted to open dialogue and reach a compromise with Torra but the latter has repeatedly stated his goal is to make Cataluña independent.

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