Catalonia’s president has accused King Felipe of Spain of acting as a mouthpiece for the Spanish government as the country wrestles with the region’s secession crisis and has vowed to press on with plans to declare independence over the next week.
Speaking three days after his government’s unilaterally held independence referendum was marred by police violence, Carles Puigdemont said Catalans were united as never before but added he was disappointed by the king’s recent intervention.
“The king endorses the discourse and policies of the government of [prime minister Mariano] Rajoy, which have been catastrophic for Catalonia and deliberately ignore the millions of Catalans who do not think like them,” he said.
Addressing himself directly to the king, he added: “Not like this. Your decision yesterday disappointed many people in Catalonia.”
King Felipe had said on Tuesday night the Catalan authorities were attempting to break “the unity of Spain” and said their push for independence could put at risk the country’s social and economic stability.
In a rare and strongly worded television address he described the regional government’s actions as “an unacceptable attempt” to take over Catalan institutions, adding that it had placed itself outside democracy and the law.
Puigdemont on Wednesday repeated his calls for dialogue and mediation with Madrid but said his government was still planning to take the results of the referendum to the Catalan parliament over the next few days to prepare for a declaration of independence.
“I have to represent all of Catalonia’s citizens,” he said. “On Sunday we had a referendum under the most difficult circumstances and set an example of who we are. Peace and accord is part of who we are. We have to apply the results of the referendum. We have to present the results of the referendum to parliament.”
The Spanish government, which has accused Puigdemont of engaging in blackmail, was quick to respond. The deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, said that he had squandered an opportunity to steer the region back toward co-existence, adding: “If Mr Puigdemont wants to talk or negotiate or send mediators, he knows perfectly well what he needs to do: get back on the legal path that he should never have abandoned.”
In an interview with the German newspaper Bild on Thursday, Puigdemont said he had not discounted the possibility that he could be arrested, but said he was not afraid.