Oct. 8 (UPI) — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the country may consider suspending Catalonia’s autonomy after rejecting the legality of the region’s independence referendum last week.
An overwhelming majority of voters pushed for Catalonia’s independence from Spain in the referendum held Oct. 1. Catalan leaders have said more than 90 percent of poll-goers voted for secession, but turnout was limited to 42 percent of eligible voters, as police occupied many polling places.
This weekend, Rajoy told Spanish newspaper El Pais that any declaration of independence by Catalonia would be rejected. He said suspension of Catalonia’s autonomy may have to occur.
“We are going to stop independence from happening. On that, I can tell you with absolute frankness, that it will not happen. It is evident that we will take whatever decision that we are permitted to by law, in view of how things are unfolding,” he said in quotes translated by CNN.
When asked if that would include an article in the Constitution allowing the suspension of Catalonia’s autonomy, Rajoy said, “I am not absolutely ruling out anything that the law allows. I would like to do it at the right time … that it is more important at the moment.”
“The ideal scenario would be that there were no need for drastic solutions, but for that there would need to be rectifications.”
Rajoy’s comments came as thousands of people throughout Spain held rallies Saturday calling for dialogue over the independence push.
Demonstrators dressed in white held rallies in Barcelona, Madrid and more than 40 other cities, carrying banners and flags that read “Hablamos?” or “Can we talk?”
The rallies throughout the country urged political leaders to meet and negotiate the terms of Catalonia’s possible secession after the Spanish Constitutional Court banned the Catalan parliament from meeting.