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Spain moves towards activating 'nuclear option' on Catalonia crisis

Spain moves towards activating 'nuclear option' on Catalonia crisis

In a much-anticipated speech to the Catalan parliament, ringed by thousands of protesters and hundreds of armed police, Puigdemont made only a symbolic declaration on Tuesday, claiming a mandate to launch secession but suspending any formal steps to that end.

Thus Catalonia finds itself in constitutional limbo, as the Spanish Government announces it has requested clarification on whether or not the Catalan Government has actually declared independence.

Addressing the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona, Puigdemont said the autonomous region had won the right to be independent as a result of the vote.

Spain's political establishment rounded on Puigdemont following the declaration, and support among separatists in Catalonia was mixed.

At a joint appearance with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that day, Trump said he "think [s] Spain is a great country and it should be united".

He said the "people's will" was to break away from Madrid, but he also said he wanted to "de-escalate" the tension around the issue.

"We call on worldwide states and organisations to recognise the Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state", he said.

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"Mr Puigdemont - no one - can expect to impose mediation without returning to legality or democracy", Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria told reporters.

Rajoy said that he was asking for clarification from President Puigdemont, who he accused of creating "deliberate confusion". "Indecision and uncertainty is the worst thing that can happen to us", she said.

Spain and Catalonia now enter into the unknown, as Madrid has repeatedly said independence is not up for discussion.

Mr Rajoy said his government had asked the regional government to clarify whether or not it had declared independence.

The poll was marred by violence after Spanish police acting on court orders attempted to stop the vote by raiding polling stations, seizing ballot boxes, beating voters and firing rubber bullets at crowds. The crisis has caused deep uncertainty for businesses in one of the wealthiest regions in the eurozone's fourth-largest economy.

Nearly 90% of voters backed independence with a turnout of 43%, Catalan officials say.

A string of companies have already moved their legal headquarters - but not their employees - from Catalonia to other parts of the country.