Barcelona, Spain – Leaders of Spain’s autonomous regions with minority populations have spoken out on Article 155.
The Iberian state has 17 autonomous regions and four ethnolinguistic groups, including what is internationally known as Spanish. Some of these communities have entertained their own separatist goals.
Ximo Puig, president of the Valencian Community, a region to the south of Catalonia that shares its history and language with the breakaway region, said on Saturday that he was glad to hear elections would be held.
Puig, a politician from the regional branch of the Spanish Socialist Party, told reporters that he would have been happy to see Catalan President Carles Puigdemont call elections, rather than the Spanish government which made the call.
But the Catalan president “did not dare to take this step” amid “circumstances and external pressures”, Puig said.
Puig has previously said that “no one is in favour of the use of Article 155“. The article allows the Spanish government to impose direct rule over Catalonia.
The Basque Nationalist Party (PNV by its Spanish acronym) said on Sunday that the Spanish government was “going deeper in error” with the application of Article 155.
“The removal of legitimate Catalan institutions freely and sovereignly elected by citizens, far from being a solution, persists and deepens the error with which the central powers of the State have addressed the Catalan question,” Andoni Ortuzar, president of the PNV, said in a statement.
The PNV has little representation in Spanish legislature, but it could be crucial for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Rajoy leads a minority government that was formed in October 2016 after a 10-month political deadlock, wherein no party could form a government.
The Spanish Socialist Party finally opted not to vote against Rajoy’s premiership, allowing the minority government to form.
Rajoy needs the support of the PNV to pass a 2018 budget. Without it, new elections could be called.
“Catalonia and [the Basque Country] are two nations, each with its own path, but united by the same desires for freedom and democracy,” Ortuzar said.