Mariano Rajoy, the Prime minister of Spain, whose Partido Popular (People’s Party) has been plagued by corruption scandals, is stepping down after losing a no-confidence vote. Socialist Party leader Pedro Sanchez will replace him.
The no-confidence motion was initiated by the opposition Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) on Thursday and supported by Catalan parties and the leftist Podemos. With the centrist party Ciudadanos abstaining, Rajoy’s People’s Party (PP) and its allies was left at the mercy of the Basque Nationalist Party and its five crucial votes.
Earlier on Friday, Rajoy conceded defeat to PSOE leader Pedro Sanchez, who will now become prime minister.
Rajoy had refused to step down before the no-confidence vote, and has defended his party in the corruption scandal that has now proven to be his downfall. Last week, dozens of former PP officials were jailed for money laundering and fraud, and the party fined €240,000 over a kickbacks-for-contracts scheme they ran between 1999 and 2006.
On contrary to previous information, the prime minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy attends EU Western Balkans Summit in Sofia, however some elaborate diplomatic work is going on to avoid Kosovo representatives. EU members Slovakia, Romania, Greece, and Cyprus along with the Kingdom of Spain did not recognize the independence of Kosovo, however their leaders are present at the Summit without hesitation. The ongoing Catalan crisis makes the Kosovo status at most sensitive issue for the Spanish government.
Released ahead of the Summit by Serbian news agency Tanjug article claimed Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy would NOT participate in the EU #WestBalkans Summit in Sofia, due to his country’s position on unilateral proclamation of independence of #Kosovo. Tanjug also indicated only lower ranked diplomatic officials would represent the Kingdom of Spain at the summit.
Does the change of mind of Rajoy mean he received the EU ‘guarantees’ that Kosovo was-is-will be a sui generis, one in its own kind, and the bloc would never accept the unilateral declaration of independence of Catalan Republic? According to the Spanish press the government made a considerable effort to prevent Kosovo to be treated as an independent state at Sofia Summit. The media sources also indicate the mission was not entirely successful, resulting in acceptance of the prime minister participation in the dinner with the EU leaders, and honoring a number of bilateral meetings to return to Madrid afterwards.
Catalonia is heading to the polls in a snap election to decide its future. The Catalan elected government, headed by President Carles Puigdemont, who declared independence from Spain on October 27 is partially in exile in Belgium, partially still in prison. However in spite of the Madrid repressions the leadership of self-proclaimed Catalan Republic agreed to elections imposed on them by prime minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy.
The Members of the European Parliament attempted to visit the political prisoners in Spain ahead of the elections, but were denied access.
The petition signed by MEPs calls for liberation of elected politicians, the Members of the European Parliament also express concerns over dismissal of the elected government of Catalonia.
At present Catalonia is governed directly from Madrid by assigned executive.
Today’s elections will clarity if the repressions of Madrid had an effect on Catalan aspiration of independence. However with government in prison and exile very few belive that a normal elections campaing was possible to allow the pro-independence parties to win suffient number of seat to continue its stance.
According to the reports the turnout is expected to be high, although it is a working day for majority of Catalans.
750 000 people have rallied in Barcelona to protest against Spain’s detention of Catalan independence leaders, police estimate.
They shone phone torches in unison at sunset as calls were made to free eight regional ministers and two grassroots campaign leaders being held on remand.
Some of the detainees will be included on the list of a Catalan separatist party at next month’s snap election.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy plans visiting Barcelona on Sunday.
In his reaction on Declaration of independence of Catalan Republic, the president of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani (EPP, Italy) gave his support to Prime Minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy to move on with the measures, foreseen by the Constitution of Spain to guarantee the union of the Kingdom.
The position is shared by the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the president of the European Council Donald Tusk.
The Catalan representatives has already regretted this attitude of the EU officials:
Prime minister Mariano Rajoy requested the approval of the Senate for invoking Article 155 of the Constitution of Kingdom of Spain to stop the “continuous process of anti-democratic decisions” and introduce a direct rule over Catalonia.
In half and hour speech, interrupted by applause of the audience, Rajoy repeated the position already articulated on many occasions, qualifying the grass-root independence movement of Catalans, and their referendum “illegal”. Rajoy insisted “the law, the rule of law, and respect of minorities have been trampled underfoot”, – the phrase unleashed first ovation.
“The time has come for the law to be imposed above all considerations, not against Catalonia, but to prevent abuse of Catalonia, not to suspend autonomy, but to consolidate it,” Rajoy said.
“What is threatening Catalonia today is not the 155, but the attitude of the Government of the Generalitat” – he continued, underlining that he intends to save Catalonia from being owned by “intolerant minority.” Rajoy also denied “Spanish imperialism” as an element in his move.
Rajoy indicated four objectives of Article 155 application exceptional decision: to recover the legality, to recover the coexistence, to preserve the recovery and to hold snap elections. “My will is to call elections as soon as possible,” he said.
In summing up the measures he intends to implement, Rajoy began by the cessation of the president Carles Puigdemont and the Catalan government.
The debate of future of Catalonia continued in Madrid, and Barcelona, while central government is vowing to restore ‘legality’ in line with the Constitution, regional leaders prepare for declaration of independence in case the Senate votes for invoking direct rule over Catalonia on Friday, 27 October, after a month of stand-off.
President Carles Puigdemont invited more than 700 Catalan mayors to assist the declaration of independence, which might take place if the Parliament decides so in a debate and a subsequent vote. Puigdemont’s invitation of mayors is largely interpreted as a pro-independence forces win, because very few believe the Senate will decline the request of Mariano Rajoy government to invoke Article 155, rejecting direct rule of Catalonia from Madrid.
The continuous demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of Catalans, requesting independence, makes Madrid’s move to take control over the region look like a risky adventure. However deputy Prime minister of Spain Soraya Sàenz Santamaria vowed to “rescue” Catalonia from itself.