Spanish Court Moves to Pre-empt Catalan Independence Declaration

Spanish Court Moves to Pre-empt Catalan Independence Declaration

The court order on Thursday suspended that session of Catalonia’s Parliament — a step short of suspending the government itself — in a move that is unlikely to resolve the conflict.

Although there was no immediate reaction from the Catalan authorities, the court order was clearly intended to pre-empt any further moves toward independence.

If they chose to disobey the order, which they well might, separatist lawmakers have a range of options. They could schedule another session, meet in an alternative venue or show up at Parliament anyway, which could prompt the police to intervene once again.

In a televised address on Wednesday night, Mr. Puidgemont appealed for a mediated resolution to the dispute, even as he sharply criticized statements by King Felipe VI of Spain, who has condemned the Catalans’ “inadmissible disloyalty.”

The conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has given no response to the mediation offer, but has made clear that it considers a dispute that threatens the country’s Constitution a matter for Spaniards, not international arbitration.

Other parts of the Spanish political establishment agree. The constitutional court made its decision at the request of the Catalan chapter of the Socialist party.

The Socialist leadership in Madrid opposes Catalan secession, but has also been raising the pressure on Mr. Rajoy to clarify what steps he will take to help defuse the conflict.

Mr. Rajoy has at his disposal a series of emergency powers to take full administrative control of Catalonia, including suspending the regional Parliament for as long as deemed necessary.

Speaking ahead of the court’s ruling, Mr. Rajoy did not detail his plans, but urged the separatists to abandon their planned independence declaration so that “more harm can be avoided.”

In an interview with EFE, Spain’s national news agency, Mr. Rajoy did not offer to hold talks with separatists, and instead said that “the best solution, on which I think we all agree, is a return to legality.”

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