"Ladies and gentlemen, they used the most valuable weapon we have: they used a ballot paper and a pen, and that was more important than anything the Spanish authorities could throw at them".
Puigdemont, a former journalist and not a career politician, said he is not afraid of going to jail over independence. It would therefore " be a candidate to become a member of the Union", then negotiations would be undertaken to integrate with the EU after a fire, green -with the unanimity of the 28 member States. Rajoy has warned Catalonia not to act on an October 1 independence referendum.
Republican Catalan Left (Esquerra, ERC) MP Joan Tardà tweeted: "Yes, Pablo Casado, we know how our President Companys ended up, shot by the army".
Merkel "affirmed her backing for the unity of Spain, and both sides exchanged views on ways in which internal Spanish dialogue can be boosted within the framework of the constitution", said the chancellor's spokesman Steffen Seibert.
Opinion polls have consistently suggested more Catalans favor remaining in Spain than declaring independence.
The region, home to 7.5 million people with their own language and cultural traditions, accounts for a fifth of Spain's economy. Some believe this will lead Catalan political leaders to be more cautious about declaring independence. City police said 700,000 people joined a pro-independence protest in Barcelona two days after the vote.
Puigdemont will address the Catalan parliament at 6 p.m. (5.00 p.m. ET) on Tuesday on "the current political situation" amid speculation he could ask the assembly to declare independence.
On Friday the Madrid government passed an emergency declaration that allows companies to move their headquarters without a formal vote of shareholders. Millions of people have voted, who want to decide.
The premier noted that 4,000 additional police were deployed in Catalonia in the run-up to the referendum, adding they would stay until the crisis was over. The statement says a declaration of independence, even if illegal under Spanish laws, could trigger the suspension of the judiciary and ouster of its president.
Whatever happens this week, it's clear that there are deep divisions over the issue, not only between Madrid and Barcelona, but within Catalonia as well.
Divisions between Catalan leaders and the central government took a particularly brutal form on the day of the vote, when thousands of Spanish police went to Catalonia to try to shut the referendum down and clashed with protesters and voters.