Catalonia referendum: Former Catalan leader, Artur Mas, says region likely to suffer backlash from Madrid

Catalonia referendum: Former Catalan leader, Artur Mas, says region likely to suffer backlash from Madrid

Catalonia referendum: Former Catalan leader, Artur Mas, says region likely to suffer backlash from Madrid

Updated 8 October 2017, 11:50 AEDT

Catalonia could face a severe backlash if the local Parliament tries to declare independence from Spain, former president Artur Mas warns, saying the reaction from Madrid will likely be "the suspension of the Catalan autonomy".

The man who drove Catalonia's modern independence movement has warned there could be a severe backlash from Madrid if the local Parliament tries to declare independence from Spain.

Key points:

  • Artur Mas says it is more important for Catalonia to "become a real independent country than to declare independence"
  • He says the use of force has prompted many to vote in favour of independence from Spain
  • Catalan President Carles Puigdemont is expected to speak on Tuesday

Artur Mas was the Catalan president between 2010 and 2015 and helped negotiate a new Statute of Autonomy with the Spanish Government before it was overruled by the Constitutional Court.

"We have to calculate very well what the reaction in Madrid will be when in the Parliament of Catalonia, independence will be declared," Mr Mas told the ABC.

"Probably the reaction in Madrid will be the suspension of the Catalan autonomy."

Carles Puigdemont, who succeeded Mr Mas as President, told the BBC on Tuesday his Government would declare independence from Spain by the beginning of next week.

However, Mr Puigdemont's plans were derailed by the Constitutional Court which ruled that a special plenary session to debate the referendum results would be suspended on Monday.

To circumvent that ruling the Catalan President will now address the local Parliament on his own on Tuesday.

It is unclear whether he will declare independence.

Mr Mas told the ABC, there was no rush.

"In my opinion it is more important to reach a real independent country than to declare independence," he said.

Use of force prompts more to vote for independence

The former Catalan leader says that both the Spanish Government and the King of Spain have helped recruit members to the independence cause in the past week.

"When you try to stop the vote using the force of police officers in a democracy, in the 21st century, while being a member of the European Union that's something absolutely horrible, it's terrible," Mr Mas said.

On Tuesday King Felipe addressed the nation in a televised speech but failed to acknowledge the violence perpetrated against Catalan voters, and said nothing of the need for mediation to resolve the crisis.

"He should be the King of all the people living in Spain, and according to his speech he decided to be the King of part of Spain," Mr Mas said.

Final results released by Catalan authorities showed 90 per cent of the 2.3 million people who voted on Sunday backed independence.

Only 43 per cent of the electorate voted and many boycotted the poll which was ruled to be illegal by the Constitutional Court.

There has already been a business backlash following the result.

Three banks as well as gas and water companies have announced plans to move their corporate headquarters out of the region, as Catalonia is plunged into a period of instability.

Mr Mas is a former economist. When pressed whether his movement had pushed business out of the region and potentially harmed the economy, he admitted it could have an impact at least in the short term.

"When you try to deeply modify the state then there are some consequences even in the economic field and now we are seeing these consequences," he said.

"But you have to foresee what can happen in the long term.

"If Catalonia has the strength, and the will, and the determination to become an independent country, then we could turn our country into a Mediterranean Denmark."

When asked if he had unleashed forces now beyond his control that could lead to civil unrest, and see Government MPs arrested and detained, Mr Mas said, "Well I hope this scenario won't happen in Catalonia."

"Up until now what we have seen is peaceful demonstrations, strong determination but always with a strong democratic attitude. We have seen attempts to vote, we have seen ballot boxes, polling stations, a lot of people trying to vote."