Spanish PM hoping intervention in Catalonia will be short

Spanish PM hoping intervention in Catalonia will be short

Spain's prime minister has said the government's plans to take unprecedented control of Catalonia's key affairs and halt the region's push for independence are "exceptional" and he hopes they will not last long.

Mariano Rajoy told parliament that the application of the Constitution's Article 155 is the "only possible" response to restore the region's legality, which he said has been liquidated by Catalan president Carles Puigdemont's push to secede.

Mr Rajoy said he hopes the measures planned, including the sacking of Mr Puigdemont's government and curtailment of the Catalan parliament's powers, will be brief.

He said they should end with regional elections that he hopes can be held as soon as possible but only once law and order is restored.

Spain's Senate is expected to approve the measures on Friday.

Mr Rajoy last weekend called for Article 155 to be implemented in an effort to stop a secessionist bid by the regional Catalan government following an outlawed October 1 referendum that Mr Puigdemont said gave him the mandate to declare independence.

The PM said the aim of Article 155 is not to suspend Catalonia's self-government but "to restore legality, boost the social co-existence that has been broken in Catalonia and tackle the economic consequences that its decisions are provoking".

The uncertainty over Catalonia's future could have an economic impact. Credit ratings agency DBRS warned today that the situation is hurting the region's economy and could become a drag on Spain's economy.

The political turmoil "is discouraging investment and tourism in the region", DBRS said in a statement.

With Catalonia representing about a fifth of Spain's annual gross domestic product, any slowdown in the region would affect the national economy.

Madrid has revised downwards its growth forecast for 2018 to 2.3% from 2.6%, largely because of doubts over Catalonia's future.

DBRS said the effects on the national economy will be "manageable" unless the crisis becomes protracted.

AP

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