Spanish PM won't rule out suspending Catalonia's autonomy

Banco Sabadell relocates outside of Catalonia

Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy said on Saturday he would not rule out removing Catalonia's government and calling a fresh local election if it claimed independence, as well as suspending the region's existing autonomous status.

Rallies were held Saturday in Madrid, Barcelona and other cities to demand that Rajoy and Puigdemont negotiate to find a solution to Spain's worst political crisis in almost four decades.

Many in the crowd forming in a central square are carrying Spanish and Catalan flags.

Political instability in Catalonia has already caused major banks and companies to relocate their headquarters to other parts of Spain and has polarized Catalan society, where roughly half of the citizens want to stay in Spain.

"Catalonia is not in this category", said the UN's former secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. In particular, the Spanish federal government filed a complaint with the country's Constitutional Court over the Catalan government and parliament approving the law on the independence vote.

Spain's red-and-yellow flag has always been taboo here in Catalonia and throughout the country because it has been linked to groups supportive of Gen. Francisco Franco's dictatorship.

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The demonstration was a much more peaceful scene than what happened on October 1, when 90 percent of Catalans who voted in an outlawed referendum favored secession from Spain.

Almost 900 people were injured as the police, trying to enforce a Spanish court ban on the vote, attempted to disperse voters. He says he has an opinion about Catalonian independence, but that is not what is called for here.

A Catalan legislator was quoted by El Mundo newspaper as saying secessionist parties in the Catalan parliament were discussing an independence declaration to be submitted to the assembly next Tuesday.

That is also the reason that this particular protest is so much smaller that those which have been held over the last few weeks, such as the massive "Si" (Yes) rally that was staged before Catalonia held its controversial independence referendum on October 1.

It is unclear how widespread Vila's moderate position is inside the Catalan government, which is being pressured by separatist grassroots groups and the far-left party CUP to declare independence soon.

The crisis has raised fears of unrest in the northeastern region, a tourist-friendly area of 7.5 million people that accounts for a fifth of Spain's economy.

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The show of force by pro-union groups comes a week after the Catalan government went ahead and held a referendum on secession that Spain's top court had suspended and the Spanish government said was illegal.

He added: "I want to say something with absolute clarity - while the threat of independence is in the political landscape, it will be very hard for the government to not take these decisions".

GettyTens of thousands rallied against the region's independence bid from Spain.

Catalan leaders held an independence referendum one week ago in a divisive and controversial poll that Madrid slammed as illegal.

"We want Barcelona to once again be the capital of Spanish culture".

The constitution establishes "the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation, a common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards" whose "national sovereignty resides in the Spanish people".

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