Catalonia crisis could spread 'chaos like a virus' across Europe

The couple married in an Orthodox ceremony in the magazine editor's home country of Romania

The couple married in an Orthodox ceremony in the magazine editor's home country of Romania

Regardless, Catalonian lawmakers have said they are ready to declare independence as early as next Monday.

"This moment calls for mediation".

In a televised address on Wednesday, Carles Puigdemont vowed to press on with plans to declare independence over the next week.

The images of Spanish riot police firing rubber bullets and swinging truncheons at would-be voters in Catalonia on Sunday handed the region's leaders the flawless story line: of a repressive central government squashing an attempted exercise in democracy.

Bloomberg's Maria Tadeo reports on Spain's suspension of a Catalan parliamentary session.

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With Catalan leaders warning they could proclaim independence in the tourist-friendly region as early as Monday, big banks are now threatening to abandon the region raising the economic stakes in Spain's worst political crisis in decades.

This comes three days after the Catalan government held independence referendum, which Spain declared illegal.

If negotiations are still to come, however, it is not clear who will mediate this political crisis.

The worldwide credit rating agency Standard & Poors said it may downgrade the sovereign debt rating of Catalonia in the next three months as tensions with Madrid escalate over the region's push for independence.

This resentment could rise still further if Madrid decides to suspend Catalonia's autonomy or arrest its leaders.

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Lawyers for the regional parliament had also warned that the session would be illegal because it discusses results of a referendum over the weekend that had been previously suspended by the constitutional court.

Under Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, the government in Madrid is permitted to impose direct rule on autonomous regions. The brutal police crackdown ordered by the Spanish government on the people who participated in the vote to break away had elicited wide condemnation. Tension and animosity are rising between the police and the protesters.

Nick said: "They are absolutely panic-stricken that if Catalonia spins out of Spain the Basque region will spin out of Spain, Bavaria will spin out of Germany, Silesia will spin out of Poland - you haven't got an European Union anymore".

Until now, leaders across Europe have been mute about the Catalan independence bid.

Catalonia, Spain's wealthiest region, wedged in the northeast on the Mediterranean coast below the mountainous border with France, has its own language and culture and a growing minority there has nurtured hopes of independence for years.

Spain's King condemns Catalan leaders as thousands take to streets
Spain could intervene to take over the regional government or it could even declare a state of emergency and impose martial law. Rajoy says any dialogue can only happen within the limits of the Spanish Constitution, which doesn't allow a region to secede.

The move is largely symbolic, given that the headquarters would still remain in the Catalan regional capital, Barcelona, but is aimed at remaining under the protective umbrella of the European Central Bank, sources said.

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