Europe News

Catalan leader Puidgemont rules out snap election

Key Points
  • Several pro-independence voices had said they would not support a snap election
  • Drive to gain Catalonian independence from Spain is country's worst political crisis since Franco era
Catalan regional government president Carles Puigdemont attends a regional government meeting at the Generalitat Palace in Barcelona on October 10, 2017.
Pau Barrena | AFP | Getty Images

Catalan regional government president Carles Puidgemont has decided not to call a snap election, he announced Thursday.

The politician said he had considered the move — a bid to strengthen his mandate and break an ongoing deadlock with Madrid authorities — but ruled it out because he had not obtained enough guarantees from the central government that it would stop the imposition of direct rule in Catalonia.

"I was ready to call an election if guarantees were given. There is no guarantee that justifies calling an election today," Puigdemont said.

He also said it was now up to the Catalan parliament to move forward with a mandate to split from Spain following an independence referendum that took place October 1.

Puidgemont has been under pressure to act after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that he would invoke "Article 155" unless the Catalan leader removed his previous declaration of independence.

Triggering the little-understood convention would allow Madrid to suspend the Catalonian regional parliament and seize full control.

Last weekend, Rajoy vowed to curtail some of the freedoms of Catalonia's parliament, fire some of its political players and force regional elections within six months.

Spain was plunged into its worst constitutional crisis in decades after Catalonia held the independence referendum. Of the 43 percent of Catalans reported to have taken part, around 90 percent are believed to have voted in favor of independence.

Following the poll, images showing Madrid-backed police beating supporters of independence shocked onlookers.

The Catalan government, led by Puigdemont, has consistently argued that the "yes" vote provides the Catalonian region with a mandate to announce a split from Spain. However, Madrid has repeatedly dismissed the legitimacy of the outcome, saying the referendum was illegal.

European leaders, fearful of other calls for regional autonomy, have largely backed Madrid.

- Reuters contributed to this report.