Separatist leaders in Catalonia are seeking to avoid an immediate declaration of independence from Spain as officials in Madrid and business leaders in Barcelona ratchet up pressure on the nationalist camp.
With the movement’s leaders divided on the issue, some on the Catalan side want to create more time for a negotiated settlement, said two people familiar with their plans. The leader of the most powerful group among the separatists promised the regional parliament will meet as planned Monday, defying an order by Spain’s highest court, though stopping short of vowing a unilateral declaration.
“There will be some formula for the Catalan Parliament to convene and hold its meeting as planned,” Jordi Sanchez, who heads the group known as the Catalan National Assembly, said in an interview in Barcelona. “There will be a plenary session.”
Regional President Carles Puigdemont’s mainstream separatist group is concerned that a move toward independence would send the economy into a tailspin, the people said. But following Sunday’s illegal referendum on secession — which the regional government said won the support of 90 percent of 2.3 million voters — hardliners from the anarchist party CUP are demanding a quick break with Spain, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the conversations are private. A spokesman for the Catalan government declined to comment.
Spanish markets surged after reports of the more conciliatory stance by the separatists. The IBEX 35 stock index jumped 2.5 percent versus a 2.9 percent fall Wednesday. Spanish 10-year bonds rose for the first time this week as the spread over German bunds narrowed by 8 basis points, and the euro edged higher for a third consecutive session.
“Markets were looking for a rational solution, and it now looks like we’ll get one,” said Alberto Espelosin, a fund manager at Abante Asesores Gestion. “It’s good to see both sides willing to have some kind of dialogue.”
The Spanish Constitutional Court, meanwhile, suspended a session of the Catalan Parliament scheduled for Monday, at which Puigdemont had sought to evaluate the result of the independence vote. The injunction came after the court agreed to hear a challenge to the meeting filed by the Catalan Socialist party.
Economy Minister Luis de Guindos slammed the Catalan administration. Highlighting the economic risks of secession, he said Spain has nothing to discuss with the secessionists until they back off threats of declaring independence.
Catalan banks “have indicated that if this process goes on, they are totally open to relocating their headquarters,” de Guindos told Bloomberg Television. “This is a clear indication of how insane is the regional government of Catalonia.”