Weekend of rallies in Spain against Catalonia independence

Weekend of rallies in Spain against Catalonia independence

He also said he planned to keep extra police, deployed to Catalonia before the referendum, in the region until the crisis is over.

The clearest indication yet of what Catalonia will do with the vote results comes as hundreds of thousands of people rallied in downtown Barcelona to protest against their regional government's secession plan.

However, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told daily El Pais on Sunday he will do what he must to defend Spanish sovereignty. Saturday's flags were all white, emblazoned with the words "parlem" and "hablemos", Catalan and Spanish respectively for "Let's talk".

Other protests asking for dialogue were held in cities including Valencia, Bilbao, Pamplona and Sanitago de Compostela, news agency Europa Press reported. In particular, the Spanish federal government filed a complaint with the country's Constitutional Court over the Catalan government and parliament approving the law on the independence vote.

Gas Natural said its board had made a decision to move its registered office to Madrid for as long as the legal uncertainty in Catalonia continued, joining moves by several other companies.

Catalan leaders note 90 percent of voters in last week's referendum were in favor of separating from Spain.

Wrapped in a Spanish flag, another local believes Prime Minister Rajoy should follow the rules and exercise his powers. "He is in charge of our government, he must do something".

It is unclear whether he will declare independence.

Image: Organisers claimed a million people joined the march.

Investors are on the alert for market turmoil before a potential declaration of independence by Catalonia this week, as an exodus of companies from the region gathers pace.

The wealthy northeastern region of Catalonia, with its own language and culture, held a referendum on October 1 on independence, in defiance of the Spanish constitutional court which had ruled the vote illegal.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said he is open to mediation, but Rajoy has demanded he give up the independence campaign before discussions can be held.

Spain specifically apologised to demonstrators who were injured during police efforts to stop Sunday's independence referendum as both sides looked for a way out of the nation's worst political crisis since it became a democracy four decades ago.

Rajoy said that includes the application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which would allow the central government to take control of the governance of a region "if the regional government does not comply with the obligations of the Constitution".

The Falange party, which is widely seen as a fascist, right-wing fringe movement in Spain, was founded in 1934 and later led by General Franco, whose right-wing nationalists won the 1936-1939 civil war against left-wing Republican government, leaving some 400,000 people dead.

Raul Briones, 40 wearing a Spanish national soccer team shirt said: "The people who have come to demonstrate don't feel Catalan so much as Spanish".

Mr Rajoy told Catalan leaders that there "is still time" to backtrack and avoid Madrid taking over the region's government.