Spain's Rajoy rejects ex-Catalan leader's call to meet

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday dismissed a call by former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to meet, a...

Posted: Dec 23, 2017 7:42 AM
Updated: Dec 23, 2017 7:42 AM

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday dismissed a call by former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to meet, a day after regional elections gave pro-independence parties a majority in Catalonia's parliament.

Rajoy remains under pressure after Thursday's vote made it clear that there is no easy way out of Spain's worst political crisis in decades.

The former Catalan President said he was seeking an "unconditional" meeting with Rajoy in Europe but not in Spain.

"I would ask for an unconditional meeting. I don't think we can negotiate just yet," Puigdemont told a news conference from Brussels, Belgium, where he has been in self-imposed exile since Spanish authorities announced they were seeking his arrest.

"Prime Minister Rajoy has a wonderful opportunity to start siding with the solution seekers and to not create any more problems than he has already created," he said.

Asked about Puigdemont's offer, Rajoy brushed it aside, saying the only person he should sit down with was In-s Arrimadas, leader of the pro-unity Ciutadans (Citizens) party.

Ciutadans, known in the rest of spain as Ciudadanos, came first in Thursday's election. However, its 37 seats are not enough for it to form a majority government.

Analysis: No mood for compromise after close vote

In a blow to Madrid, provisional results showed that three separatist parties together took 70 seats. They needed 68 to keep their grip on the 135-seat Parliament. Between them, they took about 48% of the popular vote.

Rajoy: 'Deep' social fracture

The election results show that the region in northeastern Spain is deeply divided, Rajoy told a news conference in Madrid, and will take time to heal.

"Catalonia is not monolithic, it is plural," Rajoy said. "It is obvious that the social fracture in Catalan society is very deep."

He called for Catalonia's lawmakers to find a way to meet the demands of all its people. "What is clear is that no one can speak on behalf of Catalonia if they do not think on behalf of the region," said Rajoy.

"An election is always a new beginning in democracy, an opportunity to open a new era and I trust in Catalonia we will start an era based on dialogue, not on confrontation."

The government in Madrid would like to engage in "open, constructive and realist dialogue, always within the framework of the law," he added.

Rajoy said the results showed a decline in support for pro-independence parties since 2010, although "not as much as we wanted."

He also commented on the "judicial position" of some of the candidates elected, saying that politicians must be subject to the law.

The Spanish government called the early regional election for Catalonia in the hope of quelling the separatist movement, whose push for independence this year triggered the crisis.

However, that ambition was thwarted when voters backed the three pro-independence parties.

Those parties must now embark on intense negotiations to form a coalition government, with major questions over who might lead it.

Puigdemont -- leader of the Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) faction, which won 34 seats Thursday -- said last week that he would come back if he won, but he could still face arrest by Spanish authorities over the illegal referendum if he does.

Meanwhile, the other main separatist leader -- Oriol Junqueras of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Republican Left of Catalonia) -- is detained in a Madrid prison over the referendum, on charges of sedition and rebellion. Both leaders face 30-year jail terms if convicted.

Investigation widens

Puigdemont was pushed from power after his government held an illegal independence referendum on October 1 and lawmakers unilaterally declared the region's independence from Spain.

Thursday's result was a clear rejection of Madrid's response to the turbulence. Rajoy's Partido Popular (People's Party) lost most of its seats in the election, dropping from 11 to three.

The Spanish government sent in thousands of police to shut down the referendum, and officers were seen pulling elderly voters by the hair from polling stations and firing rubber bullets at relatively calm protesters.

Following Catalan lawmakers' declaration of independence, Madrid dismissed the entire Catalan government and Parliament and seized control of the region.

The Spanish Supreme Court has said it is widening the scope of its investigation into leaders of the Catalan independence movement.

Judge Pablo Llarena is now investigating not only the deposed Catalan government, but also six more officials. Among them are the former Catalan President Artur Mas; Marta Rovira, the secretary general of the Esquerra Republicana; Marta Pascal, the coordinator of Carles Puigdemont's party; and three others.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 139444

Reported Deaths: 2440
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin34988995
Ramsey14471364
Dakota10132138
Anoka9160153
Washington623372
Stearns608248
Scott354934
Olmsted335930
St. Louis314271
Wright265315
Clay246443
Nobles231918
Blue Earth20857
Carver18677
Kandiyohi17835
Sherburne176322
Rice168310
Mower153918
Winona129619
Chisago11142
Crow Wing108322
Benton10099
Lyon10076
Waseca9419
Beltrami9278
Otter Tail9217
Todd8726
Morrison8029
Steele7873
Polk7864
Itasca77117
Nicollet75618
Douglas7344
Freeborn7004
Le Sueur6516
Goodhue63311
Martin61918
McLeod6154
Becker6044
Isanti5835
Watonwan5814
Pine5630
Carlton4832
Chippewa4693
Mille Lacs43216
Hubbard4233
Cass4055
Dodge4050
Wabasha4050
Pipestone36117
Rock3555
Meeker3483
Brown3353
Roseau3000
Redwood29411
Yellow Medicine2946
Murray2913
Cottonwood2900
Fillmore2650
Renville26313
Sibley2623
Wadena2573
Faribault2440
Kanabec23010
Houston2201
Jackson2191
Swift2122
Pennington2091
Unassigned19553
Lincoln1910
Aitkin1882
Stevens1861
Koochiching1765
Pope1650
Big Stone1531
Lac qui Parle1453
Wilkin1424
Marshall1371
Lake1290
Clearwater1281
Mahnomen1282
Norman1280
Grant1024
Red Lake822
Traverse580
Kittson500
Lake of the Woods451
Cook180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 119931

Reported Deaths: 1677
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk19440289
Woodbury735998
Johnson596531
Black Hawk5862102
Linn5823132
Dubuque538358
Scott474442
Story408218
Dallas352547
Pottawattamie333245
Sioux249817
Buena Vista227912
Marshall209036
Webster192315
Plymouth170331
Wapello157362
Clinton151627
Muscatine151258
Des Moines147310
Cerro Gordo146127
Crawford137014
Warren12947
Carroll118913
Jasper115034
Henry10955
Marion104811
Tama98637
Lee98311
Delaware81713
Dickinson7769
Wright7481
Boone7369
Mahaska72824
Bremer7029
Harrison68415
Washington67711
Jackson6623
Benton6222
Lyon5598
Clay5474
Louisa53415
Winnebago50619
Winneshiek4969
Cedar4947
Hardin4887
Kossuth4850
Hamilton4794
Buchanan4755
Poweshiek47211
Jones4704
Clayton4613
Floyd45211
Emmet44620
Iowa4299
Page4190
Guthrie41315
Mills4133
Cass4123
Cherokee4112
Sac4074
Butler3963
Franklin39318
Shelby3932
Fayette3924
Allamakee3879
Madison3713
Chickasaw3691
Clarke3573
Humboldt3503
Hancock3394
Grundy3326
Palo Alto3262
Calhoun3234
Osceola2930
Mitchell2881
Howard2819
Monroe26411
Union2635
Taylor2522
Jefferson2471
Monona2472
Pocahontas2382
Appanoose2343
Fremont2121
Lucas2106
Ida2082
Adair1911
Greene1890
Montgomery1877
Davis1854
Van Buren1842
Keokuk1711
Decatur1600
Audubon1561
Worth1460
Wayne1343
Ringgold922
Adams841
Unassigned90
Rochester
Overcast
30° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 30°
Mason City
Overcast
32° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 32°
Albert Lea
Overcast
30° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 30°
Austin
Overcast
32° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 32°
Charles City
Overcast
32° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 26°
Tracking a breezy weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events