BARCELONA – The head of the separatist government of the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, said on Wednesday that King Felipe VI’s decision to condemn last weekend’s independence referendum – deemed illegal by Madrid – took no account of the opinions of supporters of Catalan independence.
In his address to the nation Tuesday night, the king directed himself “to a part of the population ... (and) deliberately ignored the millions of Catalans who don’t think the same way,” Puigdemont said in a televised speech from his office in Barcelona.
The regional president also faulted the monarch for making no mention of Catalans who were “victims of police violence that has chilled the hearts of half the world.”
Members of Spain’s National Police and Civil Guard tried to thwart Sunday’s independence vote from going ahead by removing ballot boxes from polling stations, which led to clashes with voters and left more than 800 people injured, while Spain’s Interior Ministry said that 431 members of the security forces were injured.
“With your decision of yesterday, you disappointed many people who hold you in esteem,” Puigdemont said, directing himself to King Felipe, who said in his speech that by proceeding with the banned referendum, Catalan authorities “clearly and resoundingly placed themselves outside the law and democracy.”
“They have tried to shatter the unity of Spain and the national sovereignty,” the king said Tuesday night.
Puigdemont appealed again on Wednesday for a “process of mediation” to resolve the conflict and said that the government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was acting irresponsibly in rejecting offers from would-be mediators.
At the same time, the regional president said that Catalan institutions will have “to apply the result of the referendum.”
The Puigdemont administration said that 90 percent of the 42 percent of eligible voters who cast ballots on Sunday voted in favor of independence.
“This moment calls for mediation,” the Catalan leader said.
Hours before Puigdemont’s speech, the leader of Spain’s leftist Podemos party, Pablo Iglesias, urged Rajoy to enter talks with Catalonia.
Though Iglesias said to reporters afterward that the prime minister did not reject the idea, government sources told EFE that Rajoy made it clear to the Podemos leader that Madrid could not talk to the Catalan separatists unless they abandon the idea of issuing a unilateral declaration of independence.
Rajoy told Iglesias that the issue of the independence proclamation was “non-negotiable,” according to the sources.
The Catalan parliament is scheduled to take up the independence question next Monday.