Tuesday was expected to be the day Catalonia declared its independence from Spain. Instead, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont did sign the declaration, but has asked parliament to suspend the effects of the declaration for the time being, to allow for talks with the Spanish government.
The move comes amid mass protests, most demanding independence, but one notably demanding to remain in Spain. The region is deeply split on the question, despite the overwhelming support for secession at the referendum.
Puigdemont has long been an advocate of secession, and reiterated today that Catalonia has “earned the right to independence” in recent weeks. The talks are aimed at making secession a smoother process.
Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy has repeatedly ruled out negotiations, and did so again Tuesday, saying there is nothing to talk about. Rajoy insists no referendum took place because courts told the Catalans not to hold one, and that there can be no secession. He has also threatened broad “consequences,” including loss of autonomy, if they try to declare independence.
In the long run, however, negotiations may still happen, as international anger over the violent Spanish crackdown on Catalan voters has lent support to at least the need for international mediation, even if the international community still broadly opposes independence.