• Spain's news in English

Rajoy: No challenges to Spain's unity allowed

AFP · 30 Nov 2014, 10:29

Published: 30 Nov 2014 10:29 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"I will not allow challenges to the unity of Spain," Rajoy said in a speech to supporters of his conservative Popular Party in the region's main city of Barcelona.

"No one should have to choose between being Catalan or Spanish."

It was Rajoy's first visit to the wealthy northeastern region since a symbolic vote on independence which Madrid tried to stop with a court injunction.

Story continues below…

Rajoy, who had promised to go to Catalonia to "better explain" his position, slammed Catalan President Artur Mas, who now hopes to organise early regional elections centred on independence, which would include a joint list of candidates favouring secession.

"Never in history has a ruler lost so much time organising elections, nor generated so much instability," Rajoy said, vowing to "maintain the stability" of Spain.

The Catalan government says 2.3 million people took part in the November 9 vote -- about a third of all eligible voters in the region.

Roughly 80 percent of those who took part voted for Catalonia to be independent state. However the majority of anti-independence voters stayed at home.

Rajoy said Saturday that Madrid had helped Catalonia financially many times since the start of the economic crisis that has shaken Spain since 2008.

Many in the region dispute such statements, saying that Catalonia accounts for around a fifth of Spain's economic output but does not receive investments in proportion to the taxes it pays.

Mas said Tuesday that early elections were now the "only" way to allow Catalans to voice their opinion.

"We need to know with precision if there is a clear majority in Catalonia to have a state or not," Mas said.

The elections would be part of a six-step process to be completed before the end of 2016.

But, although nearly two million people voted 'Yes' in the symbolic ballot, analysts say nationalists will struggle for a majority in their drive to break away from Spain.

Recent opinion polls have suggested Catalans are divided roughly half-and-half for and against independence, but estimates fluctuate.

Support for independence is strongest in rural areas, but it is less strongly rooted in the industrial zone around Barcelona and other key coastal areas.

Spanish public prosecutors on Friday filed suits against Mas and two other senior members of the Catalan government for going ahead with the symbolic vote despite it being ordered suspended by Spain's constitutional court.

Catalonia held the poll after plans to stage an official non-binding referendum were also suspended when the Spanish government challenged its legality.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Balearic Islands choose to keep summertime forever
The islands will have longer evenings during winter. Photo: AFP

The Balearic Islands want to keep summertime when the rest of Spain turns the clocks back on Sunday.

  Brazilian had 'uncontrollable desire to kill': Spain police
Francois Patrick Nogueira Gouveia has been charged with murdering his uncle, his wife and their two children. Photo: Guardia Civil.

A Brazilian teenager accused of dismembering his uncle and aunt and killing their two young sons in a grisly crime that shocked Spain had an "uncontrollable desire to kill", police said on Monday.

Man rescued from bin after climbing in to find old clothes
Photo: Policía Local Murcia

Police were called after passersby reported hearing a man calling for help from within a rubbish bin in the Vistabella neighbourhood of Murcia, southern Spain.

Spain faces crucial week as conservatives re-take power
Mariano Rajoy hopes to form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain entered a crucial week as acting conservative PM Mariano Rajoy prepared to re-take power, ending ten rollercoaster months without government marked by hope and disillusion.

Eight very creepy Halloween costumes ideas from Spain
Photo: Pan's Labyrinth

Forget flamenco dancers and bullfighters, The Local counts down the freakiest alternative costume ideas to dress up in this Halloween.

Man attacked by racist thug in UK street for talking Spanish

Tomas Gil, 27, from Valencia in eastern Spain was talking to his girlfriend in their native language after a night out in the British seaside town of Poole when he was set upon by a racist thug.

Malaga: Police probe bizarre 'sex death' of homeless Brit
The man was found near Malaga airport. Photo: Dennis Howlett / Flickr

A British homeless man was found dead tied to a bench near Malaga airport with his trousers down and his genitals in a can of tuna.

Clock ticking as Spain races to avoid third elections
Third elections could now be avoided. Photo: AFP

Spain's Socialists voted on Sunday to allow the conservatives to take power, likely averting a third election for Spaniards tired of going to the polls.

Spain worries about tourism future
Photo: Josep Lago / AFP file picture

After basking in its best tourist summer season in 15 years, Spain now sees dark clouds on the horizon as popular destinations reach saturation point and holidaymakers are more thrifty, industry experts say.

Spain's Socialists lift veto on Rajoy to break deadlock
The Socialists have decided to lift their veto on the minority conservative government or not. Photo: Gerard Julien/ AFP

Spain's embattled Socialists on Sunday voted to lift a long-standing veto that has prevented the conservatives from forming a minority government, in what should finally end a ten-month political impasse.

Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
jobs available