Listen Download Podcast
  • RFI English News flash 04h00 - 04h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 01/18 04h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 04h10 - 04h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 01/18 04h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 05h00 - 05h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 01/18 05h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 05h10 - 05h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 01/18 05h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 06h00 - 06h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 01/18 06h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 06h10 - 06h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 01/18 06h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 06h30 - 06h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 01/18 06h30 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 06h33 - 06h59 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 01/18 06h33 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 07h00 - 07h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 01/18 07h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 07h30 - 07h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 01/18 07h30 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h00 - 14h03 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 01/14 14h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h00 - 14h06 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 01/17 14h00 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 14h03 - 14h30 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 01/14 14h03 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h06 - 14h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 01/17 14h06 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h30 - 14h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 01/17 14h30 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h33 - 14h59 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 01/17 14h33 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h00 - 16h03 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 01/14 16h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h00 - 16h06 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 01/17 16h00 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 16h03 - 16h30 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 01/14 16h03 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h30 - 16h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 01/17 16h30 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 16h33 - 17h00 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 01/14 16h33 GMT
To take full advantage of multimedia content, you must have the Flash plugin installed in your browser. To connect, you need to enable cookies in your browser settings. For an optimal navigation, the RFI site is compatible with the following browsers: Internet Explorer 8 and above, Firefox 10 and +, Safari 3+, Chrome 17 and + etc.
Europe

Spain faces hard task beating Catalan independence leaders

media Catalan president Carles Puigdemont (C) sings the Catalan anthem "Els Segadors" at the Catalan parliament on Friday AFP

Friday had been touted as a key date in the head-on battle between Spain and Catalan independence supporters, a battle that flared into life after the independence referendum held on 1 October that Madrid had declared it illegal. And so it proved.

The Spanish government reacted swiftly to the Catalan regional parliament's declaration of independence on Friday.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called a crisis cabinet meeting for Friday evening to enforce direct rule by Madrid on the secessionist region.

In Barcelona, the capital of the autonomous region, the local parliament voted for independence by 70 votes to 10 with two blank ballots, after pro-union opposition parties walked out before the ballot.

Thousands of people outside the parliament building cheered the vote.

In Madrid, soon after, the Spanish parliament's upper house voted for central government to take direct control of Catalonia and sack the region's president,Carles Puigdemont.

Senators voted by 214 in favour of the motion with 47 against and one abstention.

The measures are part of Article 155 of the Spanish constitution. It enables central government to stop any of the country's 17 regions to break away.

Difficult task

But, as Sarah Morris, RFI's Spain correspondent in Madrid explains, enforcing the takeover of Catalonia is a "difficult and delicate job".  

Already pro-independence activists have urged civil servants and other public-sector workers to disobey Madrid's orders.

Yet one of Spain's biggest labour federations is advising its members, whether they are  civil servants, health workers or teachers, to follow central government's Article 155 directives.

"The situation could play out in a very unpredictable way", Morris predicts.

Puigdemont challenges Rajoy

Until the end, she says, it was expected Puigdemont would step back from the brink. Only yesterday he was widely tipped to call for a regional election as a way out of the impasse.

But he seems to have "either lost his nerve or wobbled" under pressure from independence hardliners - two of his own MPs resigned and many threatened to brand him a traitor if he failed to call for a break from Madrid, she adds.

International reactions have so far been in support of Madrid.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement that "Catalonia is an integral part of Spain and the United States supports the Spanish government's constitutional measures to keep Spain strong and united."

Earlier, European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted:  "For EU nothing changes. Spain remains our only interlocutor. I hope the Spanish government favours force of argument, not argument of force."

Related
 
Sorry but the period of time connection to the operation is exceeded.