Ra­joy vows to de­feat sep­a­ratists

Spain’s prime min­is­ter has been ral­ly­ing sup­port for his Pop­u­lar Party in the Dec.21 elec­tion in Cat­alo­nia — a re­gion that re­mains deeply di­vided over in­de­pen­dence is­sue

The Gulf Today - - World -

MADRID: Spain’s Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy said on Tues­day he hopes to de­feat sep­a­ratists in next month’s Cata­lan elec­tion, which will be dom­i­nated by re­gional law­mak­ers’ in­de­pen­dence drive, call­ing for a “mas­sive” turnout by vot­ers.

“We’re go­ing to work so that in­de­pen­dence groups don’t win,” Ra­joy told Span­ish ra­dio.

The Cata­lan in­de­pen­dence cri­sis has trig­gered alarm in Brussels as the Euro­pean Union deals with the fall­out of Brexit and more than 2,400 busi­nesses have moved their le­gal head­quar­ters out of the re­gion as uncer­tainty per­sists.

Ra­joy dis­missed the gov­ern­ment of Cata­lan ex-leader Car­les Puigde­mont last month over his in­de­pen­dence bid, sus­pend­ing the re­gional par­lia­ment and or­gan­is­ing a new elec­tion.

The prime min­is­ter has been ral­ly­ing sup­port for his Pop­u­lar Party (PP) in the Dec.21 elec­tion in Cat­alo­nia — a re­gion that re­mains deeply di­vided over in­de­pen­dence de­spite its par­lia­ment’s dec­la­ra­tion.

The PP only man­aged to inish ifth in Cat­alo­nia’s 2015 elec­tion, which saw pro-sep­a­ratist groups gain power in the re­gion of 7.5 mil­lion peo­ple.

On Tues­day Ra­joy is­sued “a call for mas­sive par­tic­i­pa­tion” from vot­ers on Dec.21 in the hope that par­ties in favour of keep­ing Cat­alo­nia part of Spain put in a strong show­ing.

Sev­eral for­mer Cata­lan cab­i­net mem­bers are cur­rently in jail over their role in ag­i­tat­ing for in­de­pen­dence, which is il­le­gal un­der Spain’s con­sti­tu­tion.

Ra­joy said that there was no ban on de­tained ofi­cials con­test­ing the re­gional vote but added that they “need to re­spect the law.”

“They can all run as can­di­dates since they’ve not been de­clared in­el­i­gi­ble” by a judge, Ra­joy told COPE ra­dio.

But he ac­cused de­posed Cata­lan ofi­cials of be­ing “po­lit­i­cal dele­git­imised” af­ter “trick­ing Cata­lan cit­i­zens” by claim­ing in­de­pen­dence.

Puigde­mont him­self is in self-im­posed ex­ile in Brussels and has said he wants to run as a can­di­date next month.

With fall­out from the cri­sis af­fect­ing his own PDECAT party’s stand­ing in polling, he had hoped to form a united sep­a­ratist ticket with his for­mer gov­ern­ment ally, the leftwing ERC.

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