Court halts Catalan plans for secession
BARCELONA, SPAIN » Spain’s Constitutional Court on Thursday ordered Catalonia’s parliament to suspend a planned session next week during which separatist lawmakers wanted to declare independence — further fueling Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.
Catalan regional authorities previously have ignored Constitutional Court orders, so it was not immediately clear if the session would go ahead and if all parties would attend.
The court said its order could be appealed but also warned Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell and other members of the speakers’ board that they could face prosecution for failing to halt the session.
Speaking to reporters, Forcadell called the suspension a “violation of freedom of speech.”
“I won’t allow censorship to enter Parliament,” she said without clarify- ing if the meeting would go ahead or not.
Earlier, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy urged the separatist leader of the regional Catalan government, Carles Puigdemont, to cancel plans for declaring independence in order to avoid “greater evils.”
In an interview with Spain’s official EFE news agency, Rajoy said the solution in Catalonia “is the prompt return to legality and the affirmation, as early as possible, that there will be no unilateral declaration of independence, because that way greater evils will be avoided.”
Rajoy’s remarks were the first since Sunday, when Catalonia held a banned referendum on independence, amid police violence. Puigdemont said the results of the vote validated the push to secede.
The court order came as political uncertainty over Catalonia’s secession bid started spreading to the economy, with stock markets falling and big Catalan firms relocating or considering a move to elsewhere in Spain.