Catalonia’s Independence Leader Seeks Mediation to Resolve Standoff
However, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, Spain’s deputy prime minister, defended the monarch and instead said that Mr. Puigdemont was taking Catalans on “a journey to nowhere,” along which “every step he takes provokes greater unrest.”
Speaking on Spanish television minutes after Mr. Puigdemont’s address, Ms. Sáenz de Santamaría said Mr. Puigdemont lived “not only outside the law but also outside reality.” Because of Mr. Puigdemont, she said, “never have Catalonia and Spain endured a fracture like that which we are living now.”
Even though he did not discuss his independence plans on Wednesday evening, Mr. Puigdemont is still expected to submit the results of last Sunday’s referendum — which he has said passed overwhelmingly — for a vote of approval by the region’s parliament, in which separatist lawmakers have a fragile majority, making passage likely, but not certain.
Spain’s government, with the support of Spanish courts, has declared Catalonia’s referendum illegal, and a move by Mr. Puigdemont to push for a declaration of independence would likely provoke an even broader crackdown by Madrid.
Madrid has left a large contingent of Spanish national police in Catalonia after they tried to block the referendum, clashing violently with voters who believe that the region, one of Spain’s most prosperous, is entitled to a separate state because of its distinct language, history and culture.
Mr. Puigdemont could be suspended from office by Madrid and face sedition charges. For hard-line separatists, however, Mr. Puigdemont would almost certainly be seen as a traitor if he failed to make the result binding, even though only about two-fifths of the Catalan electorate cast ballots.
In deciding how to respond, the Spanish government was given ample cover on Tuesday by Felipe. In a televised address to the nation, he condemned the Catalans’ “inadmissible disloyalty” to Spain’s unity and constitution.