Sat11252017

LAST_UPDATESat, 25 Nov 2017 2am

Spanish Gov't And Socialists Agree To Call Elections In Catalan Region In January

MADRID -- Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the leader of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), Pedro Sanchez, have agreed to call regional elections in Catalonia for January, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

The development was confirmed by Carmen Calvo, the PSOE Secretary for Equality in an interview with Spanish State TV network, RTVE on Friday morning.

That is just 24 hours before Rajoy's cabinet meets in order to agree to the application of Article 155 to temporarily suspend the autonomy of the Catalan region unless Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont clarifies whether or not he actually declared Catalan independence on Oct 10.

The reports on the pact had originally been carried out in the online newspaper Diario ES and when asked whether the story was true, Calvo, who had been part of the PSOE negotiating team, said that it was.

Diario ES reports that the PSOE favors a more limited intervention in Catalonia, but that this would include calling elections, increasing Madrid's financial control over the independence-seeking region, the collection of taxes and also taking control of several roles in the Catalan department of Education and the Catalan regional police force.

In a letter to Rajoy on Thursday, Puigdemont threatened that the Catalan regional parliament would "vote on a declaration of independence" unless the central government was willing to open "dialogue."

Meanwhile Friday has also seen Catalan pro-independence groups Omnium Cultural and the Catalan National Assembly ask their followers to withdraw all of their money from accounts in Spain's five main banks.

The move is a protest against the decision taken by a high court judge to send the leaders of the two groups, Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart to prison on remand under charges of sedition relating to a demonstration in Barcelona on Sept 20 and also against the decision taken by Banco Sabadell and Caixabank to move their head offices out of Catalonia. 

-- BERNAMA