BARCELONA: Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has said he will not call a snap election after not receiving enough assurances that Spanish authorities will not press ahead with a move to impose direct rule over the independence-seeking region.
“I was ready to call an election if guarantees were given,” he said in a televised address from Catalonia’s capital, Barcelona, on Thursday.
“There is no guarantee that justifies calling an election today,” added Puigdemont.
Puigdemont said the regional parliament would now have to decide how Catalonia should respond to the central government’s plans to suspend its autonomy in the wake of an October 1 referendum on breaking away from Madrid.
The Spanish parliament is currently debating the application of Article 155 of Spain’s constitution, which would allow the central government in Madrid to directly administer Catalonia.
The untapped, two-paragraph article allows broad discretion for the administration of regional governments.
The measure requires an absolute majority in the senate in order to be activated. A vote will be held on Friday, and Puigdemont has decided against attending the debate at the senate.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy heads a minority government and needs the support of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) to enact Article 155.
A PSOE spokesperson had previously said that if Puigdemont called elections, Article 155 would not be necessary.
Earlier, reports had suggested that Puigdemont would announce a regional election.
The elections were one of three options “on the table” for Puigdemont, according to Carme Forcadell, president of the Catalan Parliament.
These included a declaration of independence, a declaration of independence with subsequent elections, or elections without independence.
Scene of confusion
Ahead of Puigdemont’s announcement, hundreds of protesters had gathered outside the Palace of the Government in Barcelona’s Gothic quarter waiting to hear the Catalan leader speak.
They waved the Estelada, the one-starred Catalan flag used to represent an independent Catalan republic, and chanted “Out! Out! Out! The Spanish flag!” and other pro-independence slogans.
Catalans voted in a disputed independence referendum on October 1 that was ruled illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court and met with police violence, which was condemned by rights groups and European leaders.
The Catalan government said 90 percent voted for independence, but turnout was less than 50 percent.
Puigdemont announced independence on October 10, but suspended the declaration after eight seconds to encourage dialogue with Madrid.
No dialogue is known to have taken place.
Anna Erra, the mayor of Vic, a small Catalan city known for being pro-independence, had earlier tweeted: “I don’t want elections”.__Al Jazeera