Ex-leader backs down over Catalan separatism
SPAIN: The deposed Catalonian president has said ‘‘a solution other than independence is possible’’, in an apparent climbdown from his hard line on separatism for the region.
Carles Puigdemont, who was ousted after leading an illegal independence referendum last month, has told Belgian newspaper Le Soir he is ‘‘prepared to accept the reality of another kind of relationship with Spain’’, hinting at a possible federal state structure.
He said he would never give up on the possibility of a ‘‘deal’’ with Spain on a new status or the possibility of holding a legal referendum on independence for Catalonia.
Puigdemont fled to Brussels to avoid the possibility of being jailed, after all members of the regional administration were accused of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.
His comments come days after Carme Forcadell, the speaker of the Catalan parliament, told a judge investigating her and five other colleagues for rebellion that the declaration of independence had been merely ‘‘symbolic’’.
Clara Ponsat, one of the four regional ministers who fled to Belgium along with Puigdemont, has also said her government ‘‘was not sufficiently prepared to apply independence’’.
The nature of Puigdemont’s participation in the election remains unclear as he awaits a court hearing in Brussels on Spain’s request to have him extradited.
Speaking in Barcelona on Monday in his first visit to Catalonia since he imposed direct rule, Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s prime minister, urged Catalans to ‘‘vote massively’’ against separatist parties in the snap election on December 21.
Puigdemont told Le Soir he did ‘‘not wish to be a candidate for a political party’’, but the idea of a unity list of Catalan parties has lost strength since two major proindependence forces, the Catalan Republican Left and the anticapitalist CUP, announced they would run separately.
‘‘I have, being pro-independence all my life, worked for 30 of to years to have another way Catalonia being anchored Spain,’’ Puigdemont said.
However, he gave no hint to Le Soir how such an agreement could work.
Spain was plunged into its worst political crisis since a failed military coup in 1981 when Puigdemont’s separatist government declared independence. Rajoy responded by sacking the Catalan government, imposing direct rule from Madrid and calling regional elections.
– Telegraph Group, The Times
Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont appears to be prepared to compromise over independence for Catalonia.