Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called Wednesday, July 5 for calm in the face of “authoritarian delusions” in Catalonia, as tensions between Madrid and separatists in the northeastern region surged over an independence drive, AFP reveals.
“To all Catalans, to all Spaniards, I want to tell you to maintain confidence in the future as authoritarian delusions… will never defeat the serenity and harmony of our democratic state,” Rajoy said at a gathering in Madrid.
His comments came a day after the separatist coalition that governs Catalonia, a wealthy region of 7.5 million inhabitants with its own language and customs, unveiled a bill aimed at ensuring an independence referendum takes place despite Madrid’s refusal.
Lawmakers who form the coalition said Catalonia would declare independence “immediately” if the region’s voters opt to separate from Spain in the vote planned for October 1.
If the “no” side wins, new regional elections will be called, they added.
The bill aims to extract the region from Spain’s legal system — a step aimed at preventing the central authorities from throwing up any legal and practical challenges to organising a referendum.
It will be submitted to a vote in the Catalan regional parliament, where separatists hold a majority, at the end of August.
In his speech, Rajoy said “Spain is a great country because it counts on the energy of many Spaniards, and many Catalans too who are sensible, democratic and moderate, and increasingly forgotten by a… radical and divisive change of direction.”