Spain PM says open to debate on constitutional reform
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Tuesday he was open to proposals on reforming the country's constitution as demanded by rivals in response to the Catalonia region's demands for independence, but warned they were not his "priority".
A day after filing an appeal at Spain's Constitutional Court to block Catalan leaders from holding a referendum on independence for their region, Rajoy challenged the opposition Socialists to present a detailed plan for reform.
"If any parliamentary group such as yours wants to reform the constitution, I am ready to listen to proposals. I always have been," he said in a session of the upper house of parliament, the Senate.
But he said it was "not the government's priority to reform the constitution" since he wanted to concentrate on Spain's economic recovery, and any constitutional debate would depend on the content and political support for a reform.
The Socialists have backed Rajoy's conservative government in opposing the drive for a vote on independence for the rich northeastern region of Catalonia.
They have proposed instead a "federal" reform of the 1978 constitution, the keystone of Spain's democracy after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco.
"Reforming the constitution is a sufficiently serious matter for us to talk about it seriously," Rajoy said, calling on the Socialists to "state clearly to all Spanish citizens what it is that you want to do, to what end, and with whom".
© 2014 AFP