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Spain's main parties to defend 'unity' against Catalan secession, says Rajoy

The Spanish prime minister has said that the country's main parties will defend "national sovereignty" in the face of Catalan secession. The statement comes as support for independence in the region begins to slip.

At a press conference Friday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the country's main parties agreed on defending national unity as the wealthy region of Catalonia ramps up efforts to secede.

"We are all in agreement on the unity of Spain; we all agree on national sovereignty. We are all in agreement that laws must be respected. We are all in agreement that all Spaniards are equal," Rajoy said at the press conference following meetings with opposition leaders.

"The fundamentals of the agreement are done," the Spanish premier added.

Watch video 02:12

Catalonia – a vote on independence?

'Not convinced'?

However, Pablo Iglesias of the left-wing party Podemos said he favored "dialogue" with Catalonia, following his meetings with Rajoy.

"I am not convinced by the anti-secession fronts. I do not like those that shut themselves in a bunker; we offer responsibility of the state," Iglesias said, referring to groups opposing Catalonia's ambitions to secede from the Iberian country.

Rajoy this week also met with Albert Rivera, leader of the center-right party Ciudadanos, which was established in Catalonia as an opposition to separatist forces.

"The idea is that Spaniards know that whatever parliamentary majority emerges (after the general election), Spain will not be in play," Rivera said, adding that he proposed to Rajoy a "national pact" against Catalan independence.

Secession to face constitutional court

Pro-independence parties made significant gains in September's regional elections

Pro-independence parties made significant gains in September's regional elections

Rajoy's statement comes as Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said Friday that the government would take the Catalan independence bid to the Constitutional Court.

After pro-independence parties won 72 out of 135 parliamentary seats in the region's elections last month, the coalition announced Tuesday that they were seeking to pass a bill to formally initiate procedures for secession.

According to the bill, the regional parliament would begin working on legislation within 30 days, with special regards to a social security system and treasury separate from Spain.

The parliament would then be tasked with forming a new republican state within 18 months. However, a date has not been set for when the bill would be voted in on.

"El Pais," one of Spain's leading newspapers, reported on Friday that support for independence within Catalonia is beginning to wane, falling to 41 percent from 45 percent during the regional election in September.

ls/bw (AFP, EFE)

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