Spain’s government will consider using all means at its disposal to uphold the law in Catalonia, the justice minister said, praising the police for their “exemplary” action in defense of the constitution.
“We have always said that we would use all the force of the law and all the mechanisms that the constitution and laws grant to the government,” Rafael Catala told broadcaster TVE in an interview. While images of police violence provoked alarmed reactions from some European government officials, Catala praised the security force for their “measured” response.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy looks to be doubling down on his response to a still-escalating crisis after secessionist leaders in Barcelona signaled they may declare independence within days for the region that constitutes about a fifth of Spain’s economic output. Asked if he would consider activating a constitutional clause to suspend Catalonia’s regional autonomy, Catala said the government’s duty was to “fix problems” and ensure the rule of law prevails.
Spanish stocks, shares of Catalan lenders and the euro fell on Monday as the country was left reeling from the previous day’s turbulent events that saw thousands of police use force to obstruct voting in the referendum ruled illegal by the constitutional court in Madrid. The clashes left hundreds of people injured, according to the regional government.
Rajoy has said he will address Parliament on the crisis and on Monday called Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez and Albert Rivera, the head of the Ciudadanos party, in for talks. Article 155 of Spain’s 1978 constitution allows the premier a final recourse option to suspend Catalonia’s semi-autonomy. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said the day’s events showed the region had won its right to become a republic and called on the European Union to support its cause.