Mon, Nov 13, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Rajoy appeals to Catalans to vote separatists out

AP, BARCELONA, Spain

A protester yesterday holds up a sign with portraits of Catalan officials during a protest in Brussels, Belgium in support for Catalan independence.

Photo: AFP

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy yesterday urged Catalans to oust separatists from their regional parliament in an early election he has called for Dec. 21.

Rajoy told members of his conservative Popular Party in Barcelona that “we want a massive turnout to open up a new period of normalcy.”

Rajoy’s visit to Barcelona was his first to the northeastern region since he used extraordinary powers to stifle its secession push.

After the Catalonian parliament voted on Oct. 27 in favor of a declaration of independence, Rajoy responded by firing its government, dissolving its parliament and calling the early election.

He said it was “urgent to return a sense of normality to Catalonia and do so as soon as possible to lower the social and economic tensions.”

Rajoy also businesses not to abandon Catalonia after hundreds of firms moved their legal headquarters away as uncertainty over the region’s independence drive drags on.

He asked “all businesses that work or have worked in Catalonia not to go.”

“We have to recover the sensible, practical, enterprising and dynamic Catalonia ... that has contributed so much to the progress of Spain and Europe,” Rajoy said.

Catalonia’s independence crisis has pushed more than 2,400 firms to re-register their legal headquarters outside the region.

Meanwhile, several hundred people yesterday rallied in Brussels to back Catalonia’s independence push, slam the EU and demand Spain release jailed regional officials.

The demonstration included pro-independence European Parliament members and several members of the exiled regional government.

“Democracy in Spain is not only sick, it is practically dead,” Spanish member of the European Parliament Josep-Maria Terricabras told the demonstrators. “I think that it is absolutely terrible that the European institutions don’t understand that when you attack democracy you cannot applaud Rajoy and institutions in Spain that are outside the law.”

Protesters held photographs of the jailed officials, as well as signs saying “Shame on you” for the EU’s failure to lend support to Catalonia.

Additional reporting by AFP

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