Spanish king's authority at stake in Catalonia

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"The king endorses the discourse and policies of the government of Rajoy, which have been catastrophic for Catalonia and deliberately ignore the millions of Catalans who do not think like them", he said.

Spain's prime minister, meanwhile, urged the separatist leader of the regional Catalan government to cancel plans for declaring independence to avoid "greater evils".

"You have disappointed many Catalans", Puigdemont told the king.

The Spanish Constitutional Court banned the Catalan parliament from meeting next week to stop the region from declaring independence.

Three full days after Catalonia's controversial independence referendum, a top European Commission official finally spoke out about the issue tearing Spain apart. Parliamentary speaker Carme Forcadell said on Twitter that Puigdemont will explain the referendum result and its consequences at a session starting at 10 a.m.

On Tuesday, some 700,000 people took to the streets in Barcelona against police violence during Sunday's vote.

The Spanish government says the vote was illegal and not valid, and blames Puigdemont for the violence.

Pro-independence parties which control the regional parliament have asked for a debate and vote on Monday on declaring independence, the source said.

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But the turnout was only around 43 percent, with those opposed to the vote abstaining.

On Wednesday, Spain's IBEX stocks index .IBEX posted its biggest one-day fall since the Britain's Brexit referendum in June 2016 sparked turmoil in financial markets. On Oct. 4, the shares of two Catalonia-headquartered banks, CaixaBank and Banco Sabadell, fell by more than 5 percent. Telecommunications giant Telelefonica, fashion retailer Inditex and leading energy companies Repsol, Iberdrola and Gas Natural also suffered significant losses. In the meantime, drug company Oryzon announced on October 4 a decision to relocate away from Catalonia, while telecommunications company Eurona announced on October 5 that it, too, will move its headquarters from Barcelona to Madrid.

Voters in Catalonia, a region with its own distinct language and culture, approved an independence referendum on Sunday.

Under article 155 of the Spanish constitution, the central government in Madrid can suspend the autonomous powers of the northeastern region of Catalonia. "It is never an answer, never a solution, and it can never be used as a weapon or instrument", he added, before immediately contradicting himself in order to endorse Madrid's efforts to violently disrupt the vote: "However, it is a duty for any government to uphold the law, and this sometimes does require the proportionate use of force".

The court said such a move would be "a breach of the constitution".

And with his camp clearly chosen, analysts said the head of state paved the way for Madrid to apply drastic measures to slow down Catalonia s independence drive - risking his very monarchy in the process.

Dialogue is a third option - which European Union officials have urged - but both sides seem to want their trains to crash head-on first and see who comes out worse.

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