* Pro-independence parties seek Monday vote on independence
* Crisis weakens euro, Spanish bonds and shares
* Economy minister, Caixabank seek to reassure depositors
* Spain’s king says Catalan leaders have divided society (Adds EU comment, mediation proposal, army moving gear for police)
By Angus Berwick and Sonya Dowsett
BARCELONA/MADRID, Oct 4 (Reuters) – Catalonia will move on Monday to declare independence from Spain following its banned referendum as the European Union nation nears a rupture that threatens the foundations of its young democracy.
Mireia Boya, a Catalan lawmaker from the pro-independence Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) party, said on Twitter that a declaration of independence would follow a parliamentary session on Monday to evaluate the results of the Oct. 1 vote to break away.
“We know that there may be disbarments, arrests … But we are prepared, and in no case will it be stopped,” she said.
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said earlier he would ask the region’s parliament to declare independence following the poll, which Spain’s government and constitutional court say was illegal and in which only a minority of Catalans voted.
Spanish king’s authority at stake in Catalonia
Madrid (AFP) – It was a king’s speech that left many Catalans dismayed — no mention of those hurt in police violence when they tried to vote in a banned weekend independence referendum, no mention of dialogue.
Instead, Spain’s King Felipe VI sided squarely with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government on Tuesday evening as he addressed the nation over an escalating crisis between Catalan separatist leaders and Madrid.
And with his camp clearly chosen, analysts said the head of state paved the way for Madrid to apply drastic measures to slow down Catalonia’s independence drive — risking his very monarchy in the process.
Felipe VI came down hard on Catalan authorities, which organised Sunday’s referendum on independence even after they had been told by Madrid they could not go ahead with a vote deemed unconstitutional.
Accusing them of “disloyalty” and being “completely on the margins of law and democracy”, the king said that state had to “ensure constitutional order”.
– ‘Declaration of hostility’ –
Ana Romero, a journalist specialising in Spain’s royal family, said that with this position, the 49-year-old sovereign made a risky bet.
“What will happen at the end of all this will determine the success or failure of his reign,” she told AFP.
If, despite Madrid’s best efforts, Catalonia becomes independent — still a very hypothetical step — this could lead to a domino effect in Spain with other regions demanding to split from the country.
Police chief faces sedition investigation…
Spain’s National Court, meanwhile, said it will quiz two senior officers of Catalonia’s regional police force and the leaders of two pro-independence civic groups who have been placed under investigation for sedition.
It said the four will be questioned Friday about their roles in demonstrations Sept. 20-21 in Barcelona, when Spanish police arrested several Catalan government officials and raided offices in a crackdown on preparations for the referendum. Spanish authorities say the demonstrations hindered the police operation.
The four include regional police chief Josep Lluis Trapero and Jordi Sanchez, the head of the Catalan National Assembly that has been the main civic group behind the independence movement.
‘Bigger threat than Brexit’…
Strasbourg (France) (AFP) – The crisis in Catalonia poses a bigger threat to the EU than Brexit, a senior MEP warned Wednesday as the European Parliament prepared to hold an emergency debate on Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.
Catalonia’s leader has vowed to declare independence within days, claiming a mandate from a weekend referendum which was declared illegal by Madrid and the Spanish courts and marred by violence.
Images of the police crackdown on the vote drew a vocal reaction from some MEPs, with Belgium’s Philippe Lamberts, the head of the Green grouping in parliament, warning the crisis “threatened the spirit of European integration, even more than Brexit”.
MORE regions in EU seek independence…
Paris (AFP) – Catalonia, which has threatened to declare independence from Spain, is only one of several regions in the European Union demanding more autonomy or even independence.
Here is a rundown of some of the others.
– Scotland, Britain –
An historic 2014 referendum on leaving the United Kingdom shook the country to the core and resulted in a narrow 55 percent vote against a split.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, head of the pro-independence Scottish National Party, wants a second referendum once the outlines of the deal for Britain’s exit from the European Union become clear.
Scotland, home to 5.2 million people, has been semi-autonomous since 1998 with a devolved parliament that handles matters of education, health, environment and justice, while diplomacy and defence remain the domain of London.
After scores of people were injured in Catalonia during its banned referendum on independence on Sunday, Sturgeon called on Spain to “change course” and condemned the police intervention.