In an interview on the program “Más de uno”, on Onda Cero, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy stressed that if Carles Puigdemont returns to Spain, he will be arrested under the arrest warrant issued by the courts. As regards the Debate on the State of the Nation, he remarked that this could be held in the spring.
Rajoy stressed that if Carles Puigdemont is “fraudulently” invested, this will be appealed against before the Constitutional Court. “The Government of Spain will do everything possible to ensure that the law is upheld in Spain, that is our obligation and I will uphold this obligation.” He explained that the application of Article 155 has shown that Spanish democracy has instruments to defend itself against those who seek to attack it.
In this regard, Rajoy underlined that he hopes that the institutions in Catalonia respect the law in order to recover “institutional, economic and social normality,” which “is what the vast majority of people want.” He added that if Carles Puigdemont returns to Spain, “he will be arrested” under the arrest warrant issued by the courts against him and because that is “the order received by senior police officers in Spain.”
When asked about the possibility, if the option to invest Carles Puigdemont fails, of Oriol Junqueras becoming the candidate to be invested as President of the Regional Government of Catalonia, Rajoy clarified that “that is a decision that falls to the courts”. He added that, depending on the decisions taken by political leaders, we will see whether they want to continue in a period of instability or whether they want to try and re-build.
The future of Catalonia
In relation to the intention of the President of the Regional Parliament of Catalonia, Roger Torrent, to hold a meeting, Rajoy expressed his surprise because he had never previously held “a meeting with any president of a regional parliament to see how to organise an investiture session.” Rajoy pointed out that he will not get involved in anything outside of the scope of his powers, such as “anything related to judicial affairs”, because “this is a democracy with a separation of powers.”
Rajoy stated that his government took the decisions it needed to take in relation to Catalonia, decisions that were not easy and that they principally focused on the application of Article 155 of the Constitution, with the consensus of the PSOE [Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party] and of Ciudadanos, and on calling the elections that were held on 21 December 2107.
In relation to the approval of the public accounts for 2018, Mariano Rajoy stressed that the government is “not developing plan B”, but rather that it is “in talks to try and approve the Budget.” As regards this dialogue process, he explained that “we have to allow some time” because “these things, as you know, are not easy” and “take their time.” At any event, he emphatically stated that “there will be a Budget.”
Rajoy also asserted that, once the issues surrounding the Budget become clear, a Debate on the State of the Nation could be held. “I would like to do this in the spring,” he remarked.
On this point, Rajoy underlined that, fortunately, the Spanish economy has recovered, it is now generating confidence, economic growth and jobs are being created and, furthermore, this year the deficit target of 3.1% has been met and the risk premium has fallen to 80 basis points (in the past it had risen above 600 basis points).