News & Politics

Spanish PM Rejects Negotiations with Catalan Leader Puigdemont

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy speaks during a news conference in Madrid, Spain, Friday, Dec. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Paul White)

Despite the election results in Catalonia two days ago, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says he will not negotiate with Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont. Puigdemont had offered to talk to Rajoy, albeit not in Spain but in a foreign country. He’s currently hiding in Belgium, knowing full well that he will be arrested the very moment he sets foot in Spanish territory.

“Prime Minister Rajoy has a wonderful opportunity to start siding with the solution seekers and to not create any more problems than he has already created,” Puigdemont said after the elections.

Rajoy disagrees, however. His response to the Catalan elections shows that he has no inclination whatsoever to back down. Catalonia will remain part of Spain, as far as the PM is concerned, whether Catalans want it or not.

Instead of talking to Puigdemont, Rajoy says he’s only willing to talk to Inés Arrimadas, leader of the pro-unity Ciutadans (Citizens) party. Although the Ciutadans became the biggest party in Catalonia’s parliament, its pro-unity allies lost seats. In the end, the pro-secession parties took 70 seats, two seats more than the 68 required to keep their majority.

As United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Jonathan Arnott tweeted yesterday evening, Rajoy’s remarks were striking in their arrogance:

Arnott refers to Rajoy’s recent statements saying that Puigdemont and other Catalan leaders would be held to account for organizing a referendum on Catalonia’s independence. No one, Rajoy said, “can place themselves above the law.”

Of course, Puigdemont has done no such thing. As Arnott points out, the Catalan leader rightfully points to the right to self-determination, which trumps the rule of law over Catalonia. If it didn’t, the Dutch would still be ruled by the Spanish and the United States would still be part of the United Kingdom.