That concludes our live blog for today, thanks for reading. We'll be back tomorrow morning with the latest updates.
Putin: The crises in Catalonia and Kurdistan are consequences of the “double standard” of the West when it comes to separatism
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the secessionist crisis engulfing Catalonia and Iraqi Kurdistan are a consequence of the politics of “double standards” in Western countries. “It turns out that for some of our colleagues there are good freedom fighters and there are separatists who cannot defend their rights even with the help of democratic mechanisms,” said Putin, who was speaking at the Valdai international debate club.
Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont has tweeted out statements made by former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, in which he said that he would not have sent the Civil Guard in to try to stop the illegal referendum in the region on October 1.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has arrived in Brussels for an EU leaders summit. He did not make any statements to journalists.
Debate continues as to whether Catlan regional premier Carles Puigdemont has actually declared indpendence. The Basque regional premier, Iñigo Urkullu, said on Thursday that Catalonia "never made a unilateral declaration of independence, and as such Article 155 of the Constitution should not be applied under any circumstances."
Urkullu added that doing so would just throw more fuel on the fire.
Spain’s Supreme Court has rejected requests from the Catalan regional government to suspend the central government’s move to take over its finances, Reyes Rincón reports. The measure was adopted ahead of the October 1 illegal referendum on independence, due to fears that the regional government was using public funds to pay for the preparation of the ballot.
Chancellor Merkel champions solution for Catalonia based on Spanish Constitution
Angela Merkel said today that she was supporting the Spanish government in the face of the secessionist challenge in Catalonia, and defended a solution to the conflict “that is based on the Spanish Constitution.” Merkel made her statements on arrival at an EU summit in Brussels, at which the Catalan crisis has dominated in conversation but is not included in the order of the day.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said that the EU summit will send out a message backing Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
EU leaders will use a meeting in Brussels to send a “message of unity” with Madrid in the midst of the independence crisis in Catalonia, Macron said. (AFP)
Economy Minister Luis de Guindos announced today that sales in superstores and department stores in Catalonia have fallen by 20% since the October 1 referendum.
Meanwhile, Spain’s Congress has approved a royal decree that makes it easier for Spanish companies to move their legal HQ out of Catalonia. The legislation counted on the support of the governing Popular Party, the Socialist Party and Ciudadanos.
Junts pel Sí and their partners in the Catalan parliament, the far-left anti-capitalist CUP party, have just finished a meeting to discuss the reactivation of the declaration of independence.
The meeting held by the two parties in the regional parliament lasted two hours, and came in response to news that the central government will be activating Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.
The two groups agree that they will declare independence if the central government does not do a U-turn on its decision to suspend the region’s autonomy, and are finalizing details of how to do it. Neither of the sides wanted to comment after the meeting. “We are working. When we have something to say, we’ll say it,” said Marta Rovira of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), which forms part of Junts pel Sí.
The Catalonia issue isn’t on the agenda at the EU chiefs meeting in Brussels this Thursday and Friday but is a major focus of conversation in hallways, with diplomats from around the continent surprisingly familiar with Article 155, Claudi Pérez and Lucía Abéllan report.
Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy is set to arrive in the Belgian capital today but his team says he has no plans to discuss the Catalan crisis. “If prime ministers ask about it in the hallways, he will tell them about the situation but it is not on the agenda,” sources say.
The president of the Spanish Senate, Pío García Escudero, will call a meeting of the Senate committee either this Saturday or Monday of next week to look at the application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, once the government has sent through details of the measures set to be approved at a Cabinet meeting set for Saturday.
Parliamentary sources have explained that actual Senate approval of those measures could come as late as October 30.
Miquel Iceta, leader of the Socialists' Party of Catalonia (PSC) has said of the letter from Catalan Premier Carles Puigdemont to Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy: “It is not that answer we Catalans hoped for or deserved. Puigdemont recognizes that he didn’t declare independence. He should have said that from the start.”
Spain’s opposition Socialist (PSOE) Party says it wants only a “very, very limited” application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, and for the briefest possible time.
José Luis Ábalos, charged with organization at the party, said the Socialists supported the activation of Article 155 but highlighted that until this move was approved in the Senate, all doors were open to Catalan Premier Carles Puigdemont if he chose to back down from his declaration of independence and called regional elections.
A number of Spanish diplomats admit to feeling "alarmed" in the face of Madrid's late and improvised strategy to tackle the highly effective Catalan PR machine on the international stage.
Full story here: http://cort.as/--Xo3
Former Spanish prime minister José María Aznar, president of the conservative think tank FAES, speaks in Valencia about “secessionist paradise:” “Secessionists take silence as weakness.”
Here is today's editorial from EL PAÍS on the situation in Catalonia.
"Catalonia: in a black hole"
A march has been planned for Saturday to demand the release of the leaders of ANC and Òmnium Cultural, who were taken into custody on Monday as part of a court investigation into sedition. Under the slogan “Freedom for Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart,” demonstrators will march along Barcelona’s Passeig de Gràcia and Gran Via. Camil Ros, head of the UGT labor union in Catalonia, said that the protest goes beyond the drive for independence, and extends to the defense of democratic rights, Angels Piñol reports.
Pro-independence forces say there is “still time” before Saturday, when the central government has said it will trigger Article 155 of the Constitution. Carles Puigdemont’s PDeCAT party insisted on its call for dialogue and said “the truce” is still in place. On Thursday, the regional premier ignored an ultimatum from Madrid to clarify whether independence has been declared and to back down from his plans for secession.
Pablo Iglesias of Podemos: “To apply Article 155 without there having been a previous unilateral declaration of independence would be a democratic step backwards.”
Fernando Martínez-Maillo, of the Popular Party (PP): “The dialogue that the Catalan premier demands is deceitful, because he only wants to talk in order to achieve his independence; in the meantime, he silences anyone who thinks differently, and keeps the regional parliament shut down.”
Miquel Iceta, head of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC): “The threat of an impending independence declaration makes it inevitable to implement Article 155 of the Constitution. But we don’t know what measures the government will adopt, so we are unable to make a statement or an assessment on the matter for now. What we do want is for things to return to normal, and for Catalan to be able to have a say as soon as possible.”
The Civil Guard has arrested a 22-year-old in Sant Esteve Sesrovires (Barcelona) on charges of assaulting an officer on October 1, the day of the illegal independence referendum. The suspect allegedly kicked a Civil Guard officer in the head.
Spanish government spokesman Iñigo Méndez de Vigo confirmed in a news conference that Puigdemont has failed to reply to the official request that was sent to him last week, asking whether independence has indeed been declared in Catalonia or not. As such, Article 155 will be invoked on Saturday.
Laboratorios Ordesa and the real estate firm Servihabitat are joining the list of around 800 companies that have changed their registered corporate addresses over fears of an independence declaration in Catalonia. The former, which specializes in infant formula, is taking its legal headquarters to Huesca, while Servihabitat is moving to Madrid. Meanwhile, carmaker Seat, which has a major production plant in Martorell, is considering a move as well. (EFE)
The yield differential between Spanish 10-year bonds against the benchmark German ones rose to 127.80 basis points compared to 122.50 on Wednesday. The uptick was caused by news that Spain is going to invoke Article 155 of the Constitution to partially suspend home rule in Catalonia. Meanwhile, the euro fell slightly against the dollar.
The Popular Party (PP) government is at a meeting with Socialist Party (PSOE) representatives to finalize the measures to be adopted as part of the implementation of Article 155 of the Constitution, according to sources in both parties, Anabel Díez reports.
The Spanish government laments the Catalan government’s attitude of deliberately and systematically seeking institutional confrontation, despite the serious damage to the economic fabric and social harmony in Catalonia. Madrid also thanked other political groups that have shown support, and with whom it is drafting a common response to the secessionist challenge.
Here is the full government release in Spanish.
Carlos Lesmes, chief justice of the Supreme Court and head of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), said that any measures taken within the scope of Article 155 of the Constitution “must be proportional and adjusted to the aim of restoring the Constitution and the Statute in those areas where these have been violated.”
“These measures must go no further, but they must not fall short, either,” he said. (EP)
In a release, the Spanish government has confirmed “the refusal by Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont to address the official request sent to him on October 11, demanding that he state clearly and precisely whether any authority in Catalonia has proceeded to declare independence in that region, and calling on him to restore the constitutional order.” As a result, the government said it will press ahead with the procedure established in Article 155 of the Constitution “to restore the law in Catalonia’s self-government.”
Following Puigdemont’s reply, the central government will activate Article 155 of the Constitution on Saturday following an extraordinary cabinet meeting scheduled for that day.
In his letter, Puigdemont addresses neither Madrid’s offer of dialogue within the Spanish Congress nor the possibility of calling regional elections as a means of avoiding the application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, a move that would partially and temporarily restrict self-rule in Catalonia.
“If the central government persists in preventing dialogue and continues its repression,” the Catalan parliament “may proceed, if it considers it opportune, to vote on the formal declaration of independence that it did not vote on October 10,” said Puigdemont in the letter.
Welcome to this live blog, from where we'll be keeping you up to date with events as they happen from Catalonia and the rest of Spain.