Spa­niards use na­tional hol­i­day to show unity amid Cata­lan cri­sis

Daily Messenger - - International -

MADRID: Spa­niards be­gan lin­ing the streets of Madrid on Thurs­day and na­tional flags hung from bal­conies across the cap­i­tal as union­ists used a hol­i­day mil­i­tary pa­rade to show unity in the face of moves by Cat­alo­nia to de­clare in­de­pen­dence.

The wealthy re­gion’s in­ten­tion to break away has plunged Spain into its worst po­lit­i­cal cri­sis since an at­tempted mil­i­tary coup in 1981, with Madrid threat­en­ing to sack the Cata­lan govern­ment if it goes ahead.

On Thurs­day, a mil­i­tary pa­rade to mark the an­niver­sary of ex­plorer Christo­pher Colum­bus’s ar­rival in the Amer­i­cas on be­half of the Spanish crown took place in a city al­ready fes­tooned with flags hung by Spa­niards in a dis­play of unity.

Ten­sion re­mains high between the cen­tral govern­ment and Cat­alo­nia af­ter the re­gion’s leader signed a sym­bolic dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence on Tues­day, cit­ing the re­sults of an Oct. 1 ref­er­en­dum which had been de­clared il­le­gal by Madrid.

Cata­lan govern­ment chief Car­les Puigde­mont had stopped short of mov­ing a mo­tion of in­de­pen­dence in the re­gional par­lia­ment, dis­ap­point­ing many of his own sup­port­ers.

Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy has given Puigde­mont eight days to drop his push for in­de­pen­dence or face the sus­pen­sion of its po­lit­i­cal au­ton­omy.

If Puigde­mont does not re­spond in time or con­firms a will to se­cede, Ra­joy can turn to ar­ti­cle 155 of the 1978 con­sti­tu­tion which al­lows him to sack the re­gional govern­ment.

“Ask for di­a­logue and they an­swer you by putting the 155 on the ta­ble. Un­der­stood,” Puigde­mont tweeted late onWed­nes­day.

Un­cer­tainty re­mains over what ar­ti­cle 155, which has never been in­voked be­fore, would mean in prac­tice.

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