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Iran Press TV

Spain PM urges Catalans to shun separatists in elections

Iran Press TV

Sun Nov 12, 2017 03:27PM

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has urged people in the northeastern Catalonia region to reject the notable figures of a secession movement and vote them out of office in December 21 elections.

"The threat of the separatists is destructive, sad and agonizing. Secessionism has created insecurity and uncertainty," said Rajoy Sunday while in a first visit to Catalonia's main city of Barcelona after a controversial declaration of independence in the region later last month sparked a crackdown by his government in the region.

Rajoy's government called the elections in Catalonia after it dismantled the regional government on October 28, a day after Carles Puigdemont, the region's leader, declared independence from Madrid during a speech in the regional parliament.

Rajoy said his administration was seeking "a massive turnout" in the upcoming elections "to open up a new period of normalcy" in Catalonia.

"It's urgent to return a sense of normality to Catalonia and do so as soon as possible to lower the social and economic tensions," he told members of his conservative Popular Party in Barcelona.

Pro- and anti-independence parties have all declared their intentions to contest the vote despite Spain's ongoing crackdown against those who contributed to a referendum of independence in Catalonia earlier in October. Polls suggest a tight race is being formed between the two camps while some separatist parties have nominated jailed figures for the parliamentary votes. Rajoy's PP, a dominant party in national elections since 2011, has a grim chance of capturing around 10 percent of the votes, the polls indicate.

Anti-government sentiments still run deep in Catalonia as people favoring independence stage back-to-back rallies on the streets and urge Madrid to free jailed leaders and activists. Puigdemont, who is wanted by Madrid as the main figure behind the independence push, is in Brussels with four former ministers of his cabinet and awaits a hearing on Spain's extradition request.

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