Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont says Parliament will decide whether to trigger independence declaration

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has decided to give his region's Parliament the final say on whether to declare independence.

In a speech at Catalonia's regional Parliament this afternoon (October 26), Puigdemont said legislators will have the final say on whether to trigger a formal break from Spain, in response to the Madrid government's triggering of Article 155 - which gives it the power to take control of Catalan institutions.

He said "it falls to the Parliament to decide how to respond to article 155. No-one has the right to take from the Catalan people the will for dialogue."

Puigdemont also said he had been willing to hold fresh elections in Catalonia if Spanish President Mariano Rajoy had agreed not to take control of Catalan institutions.

However he claimed Rajoy had refused to back down from his threat to use the special powers reserved under Article 155 of the Constitution, so there is no chance of elections taking place.

Puigdemont had originally been scheduled to speak at 1.30 local time (12.30 GMT), but the lunchtime speech was first put back an hour, then suspended.

Puigdemont finally spoke at around 5pm local time, after being locked in discussions with other members of the separatist movement throughout the afternoon.

The Spanish government maintains that Catalonia's referendum, held on October 1, was illegal and the result is invalid. 

Last week the national government announced that it is prepared to use article 155 to impose direct rule over Catalonia, which could mean key institutions such as the media, the police force and the Catalan Parliament being placed under external control.