Catalonia will move on Monday to declare independence from Spain after holding a banned referendum, pushing the European Union nation toward a rupture that threatens the foundations of its young democracy.
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said he favored mediation to find a way out of the crisis but that Spain’s central government had rejected this. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government responded by calling on Catalonia to “return to the path of law” first before any negotiations.
Mireia Boya, a Catalan lawmaker from the pro-independence Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) party, said a declaration of independence would follow a parliamentary session on Monday to evaluate the results of the Oct. 1 vote to break away.
“We know that there may be disbarments, arrests … But we are prepared, and in no case will it be stopped,” she said on Twitter.
Puigdemont told the BBC he would ask the region’s parliament to declare independence following the referendum, which Spain’s government and constitutional court say was illegal and in which only a minority of Catalans voted.
In a televised address on Wednesday night, Puigdemont said: “This moment calls for mediation. We have received various offers in the last hours and we will receive more.”
Without specifically mentioning plans for an independence declaration, he added: ”I am sure that in the next few days we will show the best of our country when the institutions of Catalonia will have to apply the results of the referendum. Today we are closer than yesterday to our historic wish.”
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government replied that Puigdemont had wasted an opportunity to put Catalonia back on a legal course. “If Mr. Puigdemont wants to talk or negotiate, or wants to send mediators, he knows perfectly well what he must do first: Return to the path of the law,” it said in a statement.
Participants in the referendum opted overwhelmingly for independence, but turnout was only about 43 percent as Catalans who favor remaining part of Spain mainly boycotted the ballot.
Spain was only restored to democracy following the death in 1975 of military dictator Francisco Franco, under whom the Catalan language and traditions were suppressed.