Catalan leader rules out snap elections

Carles Puigdemont says it is up to the regional parliament to decide on whether to dissolve.

Catalan leader rules out snap elections

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont makes a statement at the Palau Generalitat in Barcelona, 26-10-2017. Image: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

Updated 16:20

Catalonia's leader has ruled out calling a snap election.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont earlier caused confusion by cancelling an address in which he was expected to dissolve parliament and call a regional election in December.

He reportedly cancelled the speech following a seven-hour meeting with party colleagues last night.

The meeting was called to discuss the next move in the ongoing power struggle with Madrid.

He did speak later in the afternoon, but his comments were brief. He said it was up to the regional parliament to decide on whether to dissolve.

He said he had decided against an election because he had not received sufficient guarantees that the Spanish government's "abusive" move to take control of Catalonia would be suspended.

He said the Spanish government had not shown any intention of stopping the “oppression” of the independence movement adding that, “a possible election could imply more violence.”

Local media reports suggest his coalition of pro-independence groups in the parliament is under pressure – with one party threatening to withdraw its support if he called a snap election.

It is now unclear what the party’s intentions are – although there has been speculation it would back away from a formal declaration of independence.

The Spanish government said it would not be commenting until after the Catalan leader had spoken.

Barcelona demonstrations  

Protesters against the Spanish Government have been demonstrating in central Barcelona - this demonstrator says she feels betrayed:

“Not only him; but all his political party said they would declare independence within 18 months,” she said.

“18 months has passed and nothing has happened – we want independence.”

People pack Sant Jaume square in Barcelona, as they protest against the Spanish government, 26-10-2017. Image: Emilio Morenatti/AP/Press Association Images

The protests have been good natured with those for and against secession taking to the streets.

Martina Gallego, 17, said she did not want Catalonia to secede from Spain – however she does object strongly to how the Spanish government is treating the region.

Regional autonomy

Mr Puigdemont has submitted an eight-page document to the Spanish Senate, appealing to senators to reject Madrid's desire to impose more central control on Catalonia.

He said the Spanish capital was "trying to create an even more extraordinarily serious situation by taking away the political autonomy of Catalonia."

The Senate is, however, expected on Friday to agree to extra control from Madrid.

It includes sacking Catalonia's elected government, curtailing the regional parliament's powers, plus controls over regional police, finances and public media.

Autonomy is a hugely sensitive issue in Catalonia; the region saw its powers taken away under Spain's military dictatorship.

Home to 7.5 million people, the region fiercely defends its own language and culture.

Tensions have been high since an independence referendum - declared illegal by Madrid - was held on 1st October.

With reporting from IRN ...