Economy

Ex-Catalan leader urges unity as window for secessionist pact closes

"Perhaps the path toward freedom will be longer than we thought, but it continues and we haven't given up", said Toni Comin, one of four former cabinet members in Brussels. Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, warned of the danger of "more cracks" opening up in the 28-member bloc following Catalonia's vote.

Deposed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on Tuesday slammed the European Union for backing what he termed Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's "coup d'etat".

He stands ready to campaign for snap a regional election called for December 21. The next day, Spain's central government used extraordinary constitutional powers to fire Catalonia's government, take charge of its administrations, dissolve its regional parliament and call a regional election.

Other seats would be generally divided between parties that support the region remaining as part of Spain, though they would run on separate tickets. Mas said. "If we add the issue of independence, we won't get as many people to support us".

Calling for dialogue, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, made clear that Germany does not recognize "such an independence declaration".

"And then we'll be back where we started", she said.

The independence drive in Spain's northeastern region of Catalonia has become the second largest worry for Spaniards, after unemployment, surging from the ninth biggest concern in September, an official poll showed on Tuesday.

He also said that Europe's values were best defended by "those who protected the ballot box" during the banned independence referendum on October 1, when a violent police crackdown on Catalan voters shocked the world.

Hundreds of pro-secession Catalans gathered in town squares across the region Sunday to put up posters in support of independence and to demand the release of the jailed separatists.

The 36-year-old Arrimadas, whose party holds 25 seats in the 135-deputy Catalan parliament, said "demoralization" among the pro-independence camp and mobilization of unionist parties could help swing the balance in Spain's favor.

A civil society group that spearheaded the Catalan endeavor for secession from Spain wants all of Catalonia's separatist political parties to run in a joint pro-independence coalition in the December 21 regional elections.

The parties have until midnight Tuesday to register an interest in forming coalitions.

The poll predicts that pro-secession parties would win between 66-69 seats.

"Catalans must be saved from separatism", said Bou, who qualifies Puigdemont's movement as "selfish and stupid" from an economic point of view.

The Spanish central authorities are now in direct control of the northeastern region, where early polls on December 21 are shaping into an electoral battle between separatists and unionists.



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