Conciliatory Spain Shows Remorse For Police Action In Catalonia

REUTERS/Susana Vera

Spain has issued an apologised for last weekend’s violent police crackdown on Catalonia’s independence referendum as both sides looked for a way out of the nation’s worst political crisis since democracy was won in the 1970’s.

Spain’s representative in northeast Catalonia, which accounts for a fifth of the national economy, made the apology just as Catalonia’s secessionist leader appeared to inch away from a plan to declare independence as early as Monday.

Spanish police used batons and rubber bullets to stop people voting in Sunday’s referendum, which Madrid had banned as unconstitutional. The scenes brought worldwide condemnation and fanned separatist feeling but failed to prevent what the Catalan government described as an overwhelming yes vote.

Catalan parliament leader, Carles Puigdemont was asked to address lawmakers on Tuesday, in timing that appeared at odds with earlier plans to move an independence motion on Monday.

Puigdemont wanted to speak on the “political situation”.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has offered all-party political talks to find a solution, opening the door to a deal giving Catalonia more autonomy. But he has ruled out independence and rejected a Catalan proposal for international mediation.

Opinion polls conducted before the vote suggest a minority of around 40 percent of residents in Catalonia back independence. But a majority wanted a referendum to be held, and the violent police crackdown angered Catalans across the divide.

Catalan officials released preliminary referendum results showing 90 percent support in favour of breaking away.

But turnout was only about 43 percent as Catalans who favour remaining part of Spain mainly boycotted the ballot.