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Catalonia crisis: Spain plans for elections as independence row grows



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Spain's conservative government has agreed with the socialist opposition to hold regional elections in Catalonia in January, the socialists say. The elections are part of a package of measures being put in place to suspend the region's autonomy, as its leader threatens to declare independence.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will announce measures to impose direct rule after a cabinet meeting on Saturday. A referendum, outlawed by Spain, was held in Catalonia on 1 October. Of the 43% of Catalans who reportedly voted, 90% were in favour of independence. Most "No" voters boycotted the ballot.

Mr Rajoy's Popular Party (PP) has not confirmed the agreement to press for a regional vote, announced by the socialist party (PSOE). Speaking at a press conference in Brussels on Friday, Mr Rajoy said the measures to impose direct rule would have the backing of the PSOE and the centrist party Ciudadanos.

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