SALOU, Spain – Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Sunday the Catalan branch of his conservative Popular Party would be open to coalition talks following the upcoming local elections in Catalonia, but reiterated the party’s stances in favor of national unity, the Constitution and the rule of law.
Rajoy was attending a campaign rally near Tarragona, a coastal city in Spain’s Catalonia region, to endorse Xavier Garcia Albiol, the PP candidate for the Dec. 21 snap local elections called to reinstate the regional parliament, which was dissolved by the central government in the immediate aftermath of a unilateral declaration of independence in October.
“The Popular Party vote is so useful that nothing can be formulated after Dec. 21 without the lawmakers elected on a Popular Party ballot,” Rajoy said, insisting that several parties will approach the PP in search of support for a coalition after the election.
“To them I say, we will be constructive, as always, but Xavi (Albiol) will tell them that our vote is in favor of Spain, the Constitution, the law, concord and the interests of the people,” the conservative leader continued.
The 62-year-old politician ruled out forming alliances with left-wing or separatist parties.
He defended his government’s decision to activate Article 155 of the Constitution, which rolled back Catalonia’s autonomy, sacked the regional government and suspended the parliament in response to the unilateral declaration of independence on Oct. 27.
“Article 155 was activated by the Popular Party to put an end to the chaos created by several irresponsible politicians,” Rajoy said.
The former Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, has currently found himself in self-imposed exile in Brussels while his former vice-president, Oriol Junqueras, and several senior ex-ministers remained in prison in Madrid amid an ongoing investigation into accusations of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.
A prominent campaign message for the PP has been the return of normalcy in Catalonia but, for many separatists, the legal action against their former leaders remained a controversial issue, and a group of pro-independence demonstrators gathered outside the PP campaign event.