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Catalan crisis: Regional MPs debate Spain takeover bid

Catalonia’s parliament is debating the crisis over the regional government’s push for independence from Spain.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont opted not to call regional elections as a way of breaking the deadlock with Madrid, asking MPs to discuss the way forward.

The Spanish government plans to strip Mr Puigdemont of his powers.

The Senate is expected to approve the move on Friday. Article 155 of the Spanish constitution allows Madrid to impose direct rule in the region.

Large crowds gathered outside the regional government building in Barcelona, ahead of Mr Puigdemont’s much-anticipated statement.

Image caption Activists are out in force in Barcelona

Many hoped that he would declare independence. But there has also been speculation that he might call regional elections in a effort to avoid direct rule from Madrid.

However Mr Puigdemont did neither. “I have been prepared to call elections, as long as guarantees are given,” he said.

He added that Spain’s governing Popular Party had not given such assurances – without giving any details.

“It is up to the (Catalan) parliament to proceed with what the majority determines,” he said.

Skip Twitter post by @BBCkatyaadler

#Catalonia leader just gave statement saying .. nothing new: no snap elex, no independence announcement, criticism of Spanish gov measures

— katya adler (@BBCkatyaadler) October 26, 2017 Report

End of Twitter post by @BBCkatyaadler

The regional parliament is now in session. Local media say that his coalition of pro-independence groups has been under strain.

A spokesman for ERC, a Catalan separatist party, had threatened to withdraw its support for Mr Puigdemont if he called a snap election.

Spain’s deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, defended her government’s handling of the crisis, saying the Spanish model was “one of the most decentralised in the world”.

“We’ve always shown our sincere desire to collaborate. The pro-independence camp have made it clear they don’t want dialogue.”

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionA Catalan government representative and a Spanish government minister fail to see eye to eye in a BBC interview

Mr Puigdemont declared independence after a referendum on 1 October, which was ruled illegal by Spain’s Constitutional Court. But the Catalan leader immediately suspended implementation, calling for talks.

The regional government said that of the 43% who took part in the referendum, 90% were in favour of independence.

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