Spanish prime minister insists country "will not be divided"

It is still unclear whether Catalonia will declare independence

Spanish prime minister insists country "will not be divided"

Pro-Unity rally marches through Barcelona in response to last Sunday’s disputed referendum on independence 08-10-2017. Image: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images

It is still unclear whether Catalonia is going to declare its independence from Spain.

The region’s president Carles Puigdemont is expected to address parliament tomorrow following a landmark referendum to separate.

The vote was declared illegal by Spain's Constitutional Court - and protesters for both the leave and remain sides took to the streets in their thousands over the weekend.

National unity

In an interview with German newspaper Die Welt this morning, the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insisted the country would not be divided.

“Absolutely not,” he told the newspaper. “Spain will not be divided and national unity will be preserved. We’ll do everything that legislation allows to ensure that.”

Stephen Burgen, the Spain correspondent with the Guardian in Barcelona, said Mr Puigdemont could go either way:

“He has hinted that he plans to go ahead with doing what he said all along – which is declaring unilateral independence,” he said.

“But he is under a lot of pressure from people within his own party and also because there has been, within the last few days, a flight of major businesses [who] have their headquarters out of Catalonia.”

Independence declaration

The Catalan government had previously said it would declare independence within 48 hours of a yes vote in the referendum.

It has insisted that more than 90% of those who took to the polls in the ballot had voted for independence.

The referendum was marred by violence with approximately 900 people injured as police attempted to prevent voters from casting their ballots.

Catalonia's government said that of the 2.2 million people who were able to vote - two million voted for independence.

The vote was held without regular electoral lists or observers - and polls indicate Catalans are split on the prospect of independence.

The region, home to 7.5 million people with their own language and cultural traditions, accounts for a fifth of Spain's economy.

Claims for independence date back centuries, but have increased in recent years because of the economic crisis affecting the nation.

Protests

Over the weekend thousands of people for and against independence took to the streets, showing how divided the region is:

Thousands of protesters take to the streets during a supporting the unity of Spain on 0810-2017. Image: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images

 

Mr Puigdemont is due to make his statement to the Catalonian Parliament at 5pm tomorrow.