Spanish PM urges winners of Catalan elections to respect law



MADRID, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insisted on Wednesday that whoever wins the Catalan regional elections on Dec. 21 must "respect the law."

Rajoy himself called the elections at the end of October after invoking article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, suspending the region's autonomy following the Oct. 27 declaration of independence in Catalonia.

Pro-independence groups now view the new elections as a plebiscite over the independence of the region. And the polls show it will be very close between those in favor and those against separating from Spain.

However, in an interview in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Rajoy had a message for the pro-independence movement.

"The first thing anyone who is elected has to do is to respect the law," said Rajoy, who insisted he could not "negotiate national sovereignty" and "can't authorize the celebration of a referendum over (Catalan) independence."

"Spain will be what all of the Spanish decide, not just one part," continued Rajoy, who nevertheless believes that the situation in the region has "improved" in recent weeks.

The Spanish Prime Minister explained that he was "willing to speak" about a reform to the 1978 Spanish Constitution.