Rajoy bullish despite Catalan setback 

Rajoy bullish despite Catalan setback 

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (pictured) has rejected an invitation to meet Catalonia’s pro-independence former president, saying he would rather hold talks with a new Catalan government after Thursday’s regional election. 

Rajoy, who in October called the election in the hope of silencing the independence movement, saw three pro-independence parties win 70 seats in the 135-member parliament.

The prime minister said the pro-independence parties lost two seats from the previous regional election and won 47.6 per cent of the vote, and therefore could not claim to represent all Catalans.

“Yesterday’s results also make it plain that no one can speak for Catalonia who doesn’t include all of Catalonia,” Rajoy said. “What’s clear after the vote is that Catalonia is not monolithic; Catalonia is plural and we all need to nurture that plurality as a virtue and a source or riches.”

The anti-secessionist, right-of-centre Ciudadanos, or Citizens, gained the most seats with 37.

Rajoy stood by his strategy of taking control of the breakaway region in response to the illegal October 1 independence referendum and subsequent declaration of independence.

Rajoy, while declining to meet self-exiled former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, said he should hold talks with Ciudadanos boss Ines Arrimadas.

“The person I need to sit down with is the person who won the election, and that’s Arrimadas,” he told the Madrid media.

Rajoy congratulated Ciudadanos on gaining the most seats.

“The negative thing about these results, from my point of view, is that those of us who wanted change haven’t won enough seats to achieve that,” Rajoy said. “It is evident that the rupture the radicalisation has generated in Catalan society is very big.”

Asked whether he accepted responsibility for the disastrous poll showing of his conservative People’s Party, which fell from 11 to three seats, Rajoy replied: “The prime minister accepts responsibility for anything that happens to the People’s Party, just as all members of the People’s Party across Spain do.”

Puigdemont said he was seeking an “unconditional” meeting with Rajoy in Europe but not in Spain.

“I would ask for an unconditional meeting. I don’t think we can negotiate just yet,” Puigdemont told the press in Brussels, from where the Spanish authorities are seeking his arrest.

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Picture credit: Wikimedia 


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