At the government control session held in the Lower House of Parliament, the President of the Government, Mariano Rajoy, explained that the aim of Article 155 is “to re-establish legality”. He also added that “there is no other way out aside from elections” in Catalonia, “precisely because the law has been broken”.
Albert Rivera, leader of Ciudadanos, asked the President of the Government about Catalonia. Mariano Rajoy admitted that “the situation is very serious” and laid the blame for this with the Regional Government of Catalonia and the Regional Parliament of Catalonia because “they have placed themselves above the law” and without the law, “democracy is not possible”.
Furthermore, “there has been a breakdown in co-existence and a social fracture”, added President of the Government Rajoy, and “the economic effects” of this process “are also very worrying” because they affect “the lives of people” and “their well-being”. In this regard, he remarked that the government has lowered the forecast for economic growth “for Catalonia” and “indeed for the whole of Spain” and “if we continue down this path”, “the trend towards economic recovery that we have enjoyed in the last few years” could be reversed.
Elections in Catalonia
Pool Moncloa/Diego CrespoThe President of the Government stressed that it is “very important “to recover legality in Catalonia because the origin of this situation lies in “breaking the law”. He added that “there is no other way out aside from elections, precisely because the law has been broken, social cohesion has broken down, as has trust between people, along with co-existence, and we are seeing problems of all types emerge even, as you know better than me, at a family level. And it is precisely because the law has been broken that companies are leaving Catalonia”.
According to the explanation provided by Mariano Rajoy, Article 155 of the Constitution has been triggered to “re-establish legality” in Catalonia. Among other things, he added “elections will be called within the next six months” although it would be preferable for these “to be held as soon as possible, but obviously with all the due guarantees”.
In response to the question from the MP for ERC [Republican Left of Catalonia], Joan Tardà, the President of the Government remarked that the application of Article 155 of the Constitution is the “only” response possible “to the contempt shown for our laws, our Constitution and the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia”. He claimed that “I am meeting my obligation” because “where there is no law, there can be no democracy or dialogue”.
As regards Article 155, President of the Government Rajoy reiterated that its goal is “to restore legality”, “commit to the co-existence that has broken down in Catalonia and tackle the economic consequences that their decisions have led to”. However, he pointed out that this is an “exceptional” decision, that “we don’t want this to last long and, to that end, the last resort is to call elections” as soon as “they can be held under normal conditions”.
As regards dialogue, Mariano Rajoy remarked that “the only thing Mr Puigdemont wanted to negotiate with me was the terms and deadlines for independence in Catalonia”, something which he, as President of the Government, could not negotiate. He added that the President of the Regional Government of Catalonia “did not want to talk about anything else”, and nor did he attend the Conference of Regional Presidents, send any representatives of the Regional Government of Catalonia to the negotiations on the new model of regional financing, or accede to presenting his proposals to the Lower House of Parliament.
Pool Moncloa/Diego CrespoThe Spokesperson for the Socialist Group, Margarita Robles, enquired after the Budget for next year, the reform of the Constitution and the situation in Catalonia. In his response, President of the Government Rajoy remarked that “the fundamental priorities” of his government are to grow and create jobs, and maintain and improve the Welfare State. He also added another priority: “There is another priority at this time which is very important, and that is to re-establish legality and peaceful co-existence in Catalonia and guarantee the liberty and rights of all citizens”.
Mariano Rajoy also stressed that “fortunately, the economic backdrop at this time is much better than a year ago”. Among other things, the Spanish economy is growing by 3.1%, exports have reached record levels, this year some 660,000 jobs will be created and, furthermore, the number of contributors to the social security system has risen by 624,000.
The President of the Government also highlighted that, in recent months, “important measures” have been approved, such as the minimum wage, the extension of paternity leave, the extension to the PREPARA Plan and the State Pact to Combat Gender-based Violence. However, he added that there are still some other important pacts pending, which are presently being negotiated by various committees (justice, education, pensions and regional financing).