Secessionist leader was elected president of the rich area of Catalonia on Sunday thanks to a last minute display of unity, giving new impetus to efforts to break away from Spain.
The appointment of Carles Puigdemont, only hours before a deadline which may have compelled regional elections that were new, brought an immediate rebuke.
Rajoy’s comments came after Catalonia’s pro-independence faction that won over who should head the newest local government, regional parliamentary elections in September ultimately came to an arrangement this weekend.
The sticking point had been the incumbent, Artur Mas, separatist regional president whom the far left CUP — part of the secessionist faction that topped the surveys — rejected for austerity and corruption scandals over his support.
Mas consented to step aside on Saturday, saving Catalonia its fourth group of elections since 2010 and naming the comparatively unknown politician Puigdemont as his successor. Puigdemont, the 53-year old mayor of Girona who comes from a fervently pro-autonomy family, will make his cabinet.
“We want … to begin the procedure to set up a completely independent state in Catalonia,” Puigdemont said in a speech to the northeastern area’s parliament ahead of the vote.
A baker’s son, Puigdemont, has never concealed his separatist inclinations when he joined the CDC party in 1980 of Mas at a period when it just wished to negotiate greater autonomy far in the thought of breaking away from Spain. Despite being forced to step aside, Mas hailed the last ditch deal, telling his party on Sunday that in Madrid “all the alarm bells began ringing again”.
The creation of a Catalan authorities stands in marked contrast to the problem in Madrid, where the national government is in limbo following December surveys that are inconclusive.