Rajoy Says Spain Won't Yield to Blackmail by Catalan Separatists

(Bloomberg) -- Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy set in motion the process for convening a new Catalan parliament and said he wouldn’t allow a new separatist administration to blackmail his government.

A session to swear in lawmakers in Barcelona will take place on Jan. 17 before a vote days later to appoint a new regional president if there is a candidate, Rajoy said in an end-of-year news conference in Madrid.

Rajoy dissolved the Catalan parliament in October after drawing on emergency constitutional powers to respond to a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain. Elections held last week in the region produced a majority for parties that support independence in a result that threatens to prolong a secession crisis that is damaging Spain’s economy.

“I hope that very soon in Catalonia we can count on a government dedicated to reversing the grave social and economic effects of the crisis of recent months,” Rajoy said. “There’s no room for more appeals for rupture or illegality because the law will not allow it.”

Choosing a president for Catalonia won’t be easy for the pro-independence parties with former President Carles Puigdemont in Brussels avoiding arrest and his former deputy, Oriol Junqueras, already in jail. A Supreme Court judge is investigating whether the campaign to split from Spain amounted to a rebellion against the government.

Rajoy said his most pressing task for the start of the year would be the need to build consensus for his minority government to pass a budget for 2018.

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