Spain considers allowing independence votes, says official

Spain is considering modifications to its constitution that would allow for its regions to hold independence referendums in the future, according to a top government official. 

Puigdemont surrenders to Belgian authorities

Read all Post coverage on the Catalonia crisis

Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis told BBC News agency that a national vote on the issue could be held in the future.

Mr Dastis’ statements come in amid the Catalonia independence crisis, a region whose regional government has been fired by Madrid with leadership in Spanish custody or in Belgium.

Protests have continued over the former cabinet ministers in disputed Catalan President Carles Puigdemont’s pro-independence ex-government.

On Oct 1, the Catalan regional leadership held an independence referendum Madrid considered illegal.

After a full declaration of independence on Oct 27 that Spain’s constitutional court considered “unconstitutional and void”, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy used the powers of Article 155 to render Catalonia’s autonomy virtually nonexistent.

Mr Rajoy had approval from the Senate to wipe the leadership and call new regional elections for December of this year.

Puigdemont’s Catalan European Democratic Party is allowed to participate in the election, Madrid has said. His pro-independence party won a majority in the regional parliament in 2015, and put forward his name as their leader for the upcoming election.

A European Union arrest warrant was issued on Nov 5 for Puigdemont and four other Catalan ministers with charges of rebellion. They were released on condition they stay in Belgium for two weeks to attend court sessions.

Belguim says it will take the decision out of the hands of the politicians and put it in the hands of the courts on whether to send the Catalan officials back to Spain.

“The request made this afternoon by the Brussels’ Prosecutor’s Office for the provisional release of all persons sought has been granted by the investigative judge,” a statement from the Belgian prosecutor’s office said.

The office said the entire extradition process could take more than 60 days, well past the Dec 21 date of the Catalonia election.

More details to follow. Image 1 of Alfonso Dastis from Politico Europe. 

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