Published: Tue, October 10, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Thousands protest in Barcelona against Catalan independence

Thousands protest in Barcelona against Catalan independence

Spanish borrowing costs fell to a one-week low on Monday, narrowing the gap over top-rated Germany on hopes that Catalonia would this week take a step back from a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain.

The sides dug in as the clock ticked down to a Tuesday evening session in the regional parliament where separatists have called for an independence declaration, a plan that has raised concerns for stability in the European Union. However, some demonstrators carried signs urging Rajoy to trigger Article 155 of the constitution, the so-called nuclear option which could be used to revoke the region's autonomy.

Moves by local companies to re-locate their headquarters and expressions of support from euro zone heavyweights France and Germany for Spanish unity were also increased pressure on the region's pro-independence leader Carles Puigdemont to back down.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he was determined to prevent a breakaway by the northeastern province, which is the powerhouse of the Spanish economy, in the wake of a banned referendum on October 1.

Several leading SNP figures travelled to Barcelona ahead of last week's vote, and there is overwhelming sympathy for the Catalan cause among the party's elected politicians and grassroots members.

Spain will not be divided and national unity will be preserved. "We will do everything that legislation allows us to ensure this", Rajoy told the German newspaper Die Welt.

"But in that case rectifications will have to be made".

Catalan officials said that people voted overwhelmingly for secession in the ballot, which was declared illegal by the government and was marked by police violence against independence supporters.

A Pro Unity rally marches through Barcelona on Sunday a week after a referendum on independence
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The Spanish PM insisted that what happens next "depends fundamentally" on whether Puigdemont will declare independence.

Spain last week also apologised for the violent scenes seen last weekend during the unofficial referendum.

The division took a particularly brutal form on the day of the vote, when Spanish police sent into Catalonia by the thousands clashed with protesters and voters in an attempt to shut the referendum down.

"The people who have come to demonstrate don't feel Catalan so much as Spanish", said 40-year-old engineer Raul Briones, wearing a Spanish national soccer team shirt.

Careful not to undermine Rajoy, the European Union has merely called for dialogue between the sides.

About 10 companies have chose to relocate their legal headquarters from Catalonia to other places in Spain over fears of an unilateral declaration of independence, local media reported on Saturday.

"They do not want to get embroiled in a messy confrontation or encourage separatist movements". Some believe this will lead Catalan political leaders to be more cautious about declaring independence.

Without a declaration of independence, Puigdemont risks seeing "the momentum behind Catalan independence fizzle out anticlimactically as he ignores his own referendum", the TS Lombard analysts wrote.

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