Spain Dismisses Catalonia Government After Region Declares Independence

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Independence supporters gathered outside the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday. Credit Jack Taylor/Getty Images

BARCELONA, Spain — Spain’s leader fired the government of the rebellious Catalonia region Friday, dissolved the regional parliament and ordered new elections after Catalan lawmakers illegally declared an independent nation.

The showdown escalated the biggest political crisis in decades to hit Spain, which is just emerging from a prolonged economic malaise. Catalonia is a critical part of the economy in Spain, the fifth largest in Europe.

“We never wanted to reach this situation, never,” Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on television, announcing the emergency steps he was taking under the Constitution to crush Catalan independence.

Mr. Rajoy’s move capped a frenzied day of political maneuvering in Madrid, Spain’s capital, and Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, where the long drive for independence — illegal under Spain’s Constitution — has now reached its fiercest level yet.

Whether the separatist emotion behind the independence declaration will now grow or fade could depend on how aggressively the central authorities in Madrid enforce the takeover in coming days.

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As of Friday night it was unclear whether separatist leaders — who hours earlier exulted at the independence declaration — would resist. The mood in the city of Barcelona was a mix of intense joy and subdued trepidation.

“We believe it is urgent to listen to Catalan citizens, to all of them, so that they can decide their future and nobody can act outside the law on their behalf,” Mr. Rajoy said.

The steps announced by Mr. Rajoy mean Spain will take direct control over one of the country’s autonomous regions for the first time since Spain embraced democracy under the 1978 Constitution.

At the end of what he called “a sad day” for Spaniards, Mr. Rajoy assured them that he had the means to end a secessionist threat that, he said, was based on “lies, frauds and impositions.”

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain spoke after the Senate voted on Friday to grant him powers to take direct administrative control over the Catalan region. CreditJuanjo Martin/European Pressphoto Agency

He removed the Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, and his cabinet, as well the director general of the autonomous police force. He also ordered Catalonia’s representative offices overseas to close.

In ordering the Catalan Parliament to dissolve, Mr. Rajoy said new regional elections would be held Dec. 21.

Pending the elections and formation of a new regional government, Mr. Rajoy said, Catalonia’s administration would be run from Madrid.

Fueled by a distinct language and culture as well as economic grievances, aspirations for a separate state have percolated for generations in Catalonia before boiling over this month.

The events on Friday, coming in the chaotic aftermath of an Oct. 1 independence referendum in Catalonia, were greeted variously with anger, concern and elation on both sides, with the prospect of even more volatile confrontations in days ahead as the Spanish government moves to put the steps in place.

Spain’s attorney general may now seek to detain Catalan leaders on grounds of rebellion.

Such moves were likely to turn the boisterous separatist street celebrations that greeted the independence declaration on Friday into mass protests, with one Catalan labor union already calling on workers to stage a general strike on Monday.

During the debate in the regional parliament that preceded their vote for independence, Catalan lawmakers traded accusations and in turn described the occasion as “historic” and “happy,” or else “tragic” and a violation of Spain’s Constitution — perhaps the only thing on which both sides agreed.

Within an hour, the Spanish Senate in Madrid voted 214 to 47 to invoke Article 155 of Spain’s Constitution, granting Mr. Rajoy extraordinary powers to seize direct administrative control over the region and remove secessionist politicians, including Mr. Puigdemont, the Catalan leader.

In a speech on Friday before the vote, Mr. Rajoy had said he had “no alternative” because Mr. Puigdemont and his separatist government had pursued an illegal and unilateral path that was “contrary to the normal behavior in any democratic country like ours.”

Photo

Separatist lawmakers in the Catalan Parliament applauded after the resolution passed. Those opposed to independence walked out in protest before the vote. CreditDavid Ramos/Getty Images

Undeterred by Mr. Rajoys threat, and after a bitter debate, separatists in the Catalan Parliament passed a resolution to create “a Catalan republic as an independent state.”

Most of the opponents to independence walked out of the chamber in protest before the vote, which the remaining lawmakers held via secret ballot, aware that declaring independence from Spain could risk arrest.

The final tally was 70 in favor, 10 against, and two blank votes.

Since the referendum , Mr. Puigdemont had been squeezed in a tightening vise of his own creation, and seemed at times to contradict his own declarations as he squirmed for a way out.

Mr. Puigdemont, a former small city mayor, was trapped between the demands from Catalan hard-liners to declare independence on one side, and, on the other side, the stiffening response from a Rajoy government determined to preserve the nation’s Constitution and territorial integrity.

Despite pleas for mediation, he and his region’s independence bid were shunned and condemned, not only by Madrid but also by European Union officials wary of encouraging similarly minded secessionist movements around the Continent.

European leaders made clear on Friday that they would not be recognizing Catalan independence and would support Mr. Rajoy, as leader of one of the bloc’s most important member states. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, wrote in a Twitter post that “nothing changes” and “Spain remains our only interlocutor.”

Searching for a compromise, Mr. Puigdemont came close on Thursday to calling early regional elections in hopes of forestalling the drastic measures approved by the Spanish Senate on Friday and preserving Catalonia’s autonomy.

But Madrid would offer no guarantee that it would not clamp down on the region, Mr. Puigdemont said, as he immediately faced a revolt in his own ranks from secessionist hard-liners who called him a traitor.

After hours of wavering on Thursday, he relented and threw the decision on independence to Catalan lawmakers, who took the fateful plunge on Friday.

Catalonia

Catch up here on the referendum and its fallout.

  • Catalonia voted on independence despite opposition from Spain’s government. What are the origins of the secessionist movement, and what has happened since the vote?

Addressing the Catalan Parliament in Spanish, Carlos Carrizosa, a lawmaker from Ciudadanos, a party that opposes secession, told Mr. Puigdemont and separatist lawmakers that, far from creating a new Catalan republic, “you will go down in history for having fractured Catalonia and for sinking the institutions of Catalonia.”

In front of the assembly, he tore apart a copy of the independence resolution. “Your job is not to promise unrealizable dreams but to improve the daily lives of people,” he said.

Before the independence vote, Marta Rovira, a separatist lawmaker, told the assembly that “today we start on a new path” to build “a better country.” She added, “We are creating a country free of repression.”

Catalan lawmakers who voted for independence could face prosecution for sedition, or even rebellion.

Marta Ribas, a Catalan lawmaker, said that Madrid’s use of Article 155 was unjustified, but also argued that “it’s a mistake to respond to one outrageous act with another outrageous act.”

She added, “A declaration of independence won’t protect us from the 155, quite the contrary.”

In the streets outside the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona, not far from a boisterous pro-independence rally, a few Catalans quietly expressed similar frustrations.

The Oct. 1 referendum did not give the Catalan government the legitimacy to vote to secede, said Federico Escolar, 53, a cafe owner.

“Most of the people who would have voted no did not participate,” Mr. Escolar said, while smoking a cigarette outside his cafe. “It was not a proper referendum. It was illegal.”

Walking into a nearby subway station, Cristina Juana, a 38-year-old social worker, agreed.

“Neither Puigdemont nor the Catalan government knows exactly what the Catalan people’s opinion is,” Ms. Juana said.

Before the Catalan Parliament’s vote for independence on Friday, large crowds had gathered outside in anticipation of what they hoped would be a historic day for Catalonia.

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Many were draped in flags as they watched the parliamentary debate on two large screens, cheering during speeches by pro-independence lawmakers and hissing those of their opponents. When proceedings hit a lull, the crowds cycled through a series of pro-independence chants.

“Spanish occupiers!” was one, a reference to the national police officers who tried to stop the Oct. 1 referendum by force. “Leave Catalonia!”

Spain: How Many People Will They Be Willing To Butcher In Catalonia?

Spain: How Many People Will They Be Willing To Butcher In Catalonia?

 

As most folks who are interested in this ‘Autonomy’ issue between the nation of Spain and the nation of Catalonia realize the government of Spain appears ready to invade the nation of Catalonia. The reason for this arrogance is that the people of the nation of Catalonia voted on October first of this year to truly separate themselves from the federal government of Spain. By the articles that I have read since the first of October concerning the succession vote by the people of Catalonia it appears that the people voted at a 90-92% rate to completely break away from Spanish rule.

 

The King of Spain and their Prime Minister tried to make it difficult for the people to vote back on the first by using the police to beat and arrest people at the polling locations as well as trying to close those locations. The government leaders I just mentioned have made it plain that they will not tolerate Catalonia breaking away from Spain and they have made it very plain that they are going to use the Spanish police and Spain’s military to remove the elected government leaders of Catalonia. They have also made it plain that the government in Madrid will place their own choices into the seats of government of Catalonia. Yesterday in Barcelona over 500,000 marched against Spanish rule, is Spain willing to kill or imprison hundreds of thousands of people?

 

The population of Catalonia is about 7.5 million people which is about 15% of Spain’s total population. Catalonia is a huge creator of wealth for Spain, they generate about 20% of Spain’s GDP. Is this the issue that has the politicians in Madrid bearing their teeth at Catalonia? If you have not studied the history of these two nations and how they sort of became one please allow me to pass on some information to you. Two nations became one through a wedding in 1469 A.D.. One King, one Queen formed one country. Pretty much ever since this event the people of Catalonia have been trying to break free from the grip of Madrid. They have had autonomy several times just to have it yanked away again and again. This is what is about to happen right now. Catalonia has always had its own culture and its own language and they simply want their freedom back.

 

The government leaders including the King of Spain are having to make a decision right now about what they are going to do about the people in Catalonia. If the people and the government of Catalonia stand firm and refuse to have their own elected leaders removed for vassals of Madrid, what is the Spanish government going to do? Will they go into Catalonia like the Russians did with Czechoslovakia in 1968? How many freedom wanting people is the Madrid government willing to kill and to imprison to keep these people under their thumb? I have a bad feeling that the world is about to find out the answer to that question very soon. Would it not be better for all of the people of Spain and the Spanish government, to have a good friend/brother next door to them, a true ally? If Spain does go in and force their way on these people they are going to have an enemy in their midst, not a friend. I am sure that Madrid is mostly worried about losing 20% of their GDP yet they will lose a lot more than that if the people of Catalonia are butchered because they want their freedom back.

Catalonia’s leaders slam Spanish government plans for direct rule

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Catalonia’s leaders slam Spanish government plans for direct rule

Uproar in Catalonia

Uproar in Barcelona over Madrid direct rule plan 01:17

Story highlights

  • Spanish PM Rajoy outlined his plan to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy
  • Nearly half a million people marched against the measures in Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain (CNN)Catalan leaders have insisted they will reject any attempt by Madrid to impose direct rule on their autonomous region, as a political crisis escalates over Catalonia’s threats to declare independence from Spain.

On Saturday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced his plans to dissolve the Catalan parliament under a never-before-used article of the Constitution, vowing to remove the region’s elected leaders as soon as possible and hold new elections.
It is the most serious threat Rajoy has made since Catalonia held an independence referendum on October 1, triggering Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.
Madrid dismissed the vote as illegal but Catalan leaders saw it as a mandate to announce a split from the country.

Rajoy urges removal of Catalan President

Rajoy urges removal of Catalan President 02:31

What will direct rule mean?

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On Sunday, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis gave a glimpse into what Catalonia under direct rule might look like.
“We are going to establish the authorities who are going to rule the day-to-day affairs of Catalonia according to the Catalan laws and norms,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr.

Demonstrators march in Barcelona on Saturday.

He called on the Catalan people to ignore the current regional authorities, including the police, once Madrid declared direct rule and said that new elections should bring in new leaders.
“They wont have any legal authority, so they will be equal to a group of rebels trying to impose their own arbitrariness on the people of Catalonia,” he said.
He said that the regional police could resume their duties once they had been placed under the authority of Madrid or newly elected Catalan leaders.
Dastis denied that Madrid would need to send in large numbers of police or the military to impose direct rule.
“We hope the regional police, once put under the control of people who respect and who uphold the Catalan rules and Spanish rules, everything will be fine.”

‘Attack on democracy’

On Saturday, nearly half a million people protested in Barcelona, Catalonia’s biggest city.
Demonstrators shouted “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” and “Rajoy, Rajoy, so you know we are leaving!”
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont was among the throngs, but he stopped short of declaring independence, as he had threatened to do earlier in the week.
“The Catalan institutions and the people of Catalonia cannot accept this attack,” he said later in a televised statement, accusing Madrid of seeking the “humiliation” of the Catalan people.
“What is being done with Catalonia is directly an attack on democracy that opens the door to other abuses of the same kind anywhere, not just in Catalonia.”

Protesters hold signs reading "Freedom for the two Jordis" on Saturday, referring to two jailed Catalan activists.

Other Catalan politicians were similarly defiant. Catalan parliamentary leader Carme Forcadell accused Rajoy of “enormous political irresponsibility” that “trespassed all limits.”
“He announced a de facto coup d’etat with which he aims to take over Catalan institutions,” Forcadell said Saturday.
“We will not take a step back. We were chosen by the people of this country as legitimate representatives, and as public servants we owe ourselves to them.”

Rajoy calls for new elections

Rajoy is seeking to employ Article 155 of the constitution, which would allow the national government to suspend the autonomy of the Catalan regional administration. Rajoy said the measure would be sent to the Spanish Senate within the week.
New elections should be called for Catalonia within six months, Rajoy said, adding that he wants it to happen as soon as possible.
Under the measures proposed Saturday by Rajoy, Puigdemont, his vice president and ministers would be suspended and replaced by the administration in Madrid, where necessary.

How Catalonia's independence crisis unfolded

How Catalonia’s independence crisis unfolded 01:49
“The government had to enforce Article 155. It wasn’t our desire, nor our intention. It never was,” Rajoy said. “But in this situation, no government of any democratic country can accept that the law is ignored.”
In undertaking these steps, the government has four goals, Rajoy said — to return to legality; to restore normality and coexistence in Catalonia; to continue the region’s economic recovery; and to hold elections under normal conditions.

Spain’s FM denies excessive use of force

Catalan media reacted Sunday to Rajoy’s announcement with editorials goading Puigdemont to declare independence soon.
The Catalan daily Diari Ara published photos of the march under the banner “Freedom,” while the daily El Punt Avui showed a photo of Rajoy in black and white overlooking the colorful protests under a the headline: “Returning to the past.” It also ran an editorial under the headline: “An unacceptable attack.”
Every move Madrid has made to ward off an independence declaration, the Catalan people appear to have responded to with more vigor.

Spanish police officers try to disperse voters at a polling station in Barcelona on October 1.

Madrid sent thousands of police into Catalonia to stop the October 1 vote, but officers were seen using what many called excessive force, shooting rubber bullets at protesters, dragging voters from polling stations by their hair and restraining elderly people.
Even though members of the Spanish government eventually apologized for the police’s force that day, Dastis defended the police Sunday, saying that the use of force was “limited” and “provoked,” and that many of the images had been doctored and constituted “fake news.”

Implications of independence

Nearly 7.5 million people live in Catalonia, an economic powerhouse in the northeast of Spain. Spain’s population is almost 49 million.
More than 2.25 million people turned out to vote, with the regional government reporting that 90% of voters favored a split from Madrid. But the turnout was low — around 43% of the voter roll — which Catalan officials blamed on the central government’s efforts to stop the referendum.
An independent Catalonia would be outside the European Union and its single market, which is essentially a free-trade zone.
EU leaders have backed the Madrid government in its handling of the crisis, which Rajoy insists is an internal matter.
Catalonia would also sit outside the World Trade Organization, which could have consequences for the region’s economic health.
Amid the uncertainty, businesses have already started to move their legal headquarters out of Catalonia. According to a tweet Friday by the National Association of Registers, 1,185 companies began that process between October 2 and 19.

Spain Will Remove Catalonia Leader

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced that fresh regional elections would take place in Catalonia within six months. CreditGabriel Bouys/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

BARCELONA — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia’s independence drive took its most serious turn on Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

It was the first time that Spain’s government had moved to strip the autonomy of one of its 17 regions, and the first time that a leader had invoked Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution — a broad tool intended to protect the “general interests” of the nation.

The unexpectedly forceful moves by Mr. Rajoy, made after an emergency cabinet meeting, thrust Spain into uncharted waters. The prime minister is trying to put down one of the gravest constitutional crises his country has faced since embracing democracy after the death of its dictator Gen. Francisco Franco in 1975.

The steps were immediately condemned by Catalan leaders and risked further inflaming an already volatile atmosphere in the prosperous northeastern region. On Oct. 1, thousands braved national police wielding truncheons to vote in a contentious independence referendum for Catalonia, even after it was declared illegal by the Spanish government and courts.

“There’s nothing soft or limited about what he announced today,” Josep Ramoneda, a political columnist, said of Mr. Rajoy. “We’re entering a very delicate phase, in which an independence movement that appeared to be running out of options might now draw instead on a collective sense of humiliation at seeing Catalonia being forced under Madrid’s control.”

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Fueled by economic grievances and a distinct language and culture, aspirations for an independent state in Catalonia have ebbed and flowed for generations.

But the current confrontation has presented a vexing quandary not only for Spain but the entire European Union, pitting demands for self-determination against the desire to preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of an important member state.

Mr. Rajoy took the bold steps with broad support from Spain’s main political opposition, and will almost certainly receive the required approval next week from the Spanish Senate, where his own conservative party holds a majority.

He did so despite repeated appeals for dialogue and mediation by the Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, whose independence drive has been shunned by wary European Union officials.

Mr. Rajoy said the Catalan government had never offered real dialogue but had instead tried to impose its secessionist project on Catalan citizens and the rest of the country in violation of Spain’s Constitution.

Photo

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, center, attended a protest in Barcelona on Sunday against the imprisonment of two Catalan pro-independence leaders. CreditIvan Alvarado/Reuters

He said his government was putting an end to “a unilateral process, contrary to the law and searching for confrontation” because “no government of any democratic country can accept that the law be violated, ignored and changed.”

Mr. Rajoy said he planned to remove Mr. Puigdemont, and the rest of his separatist administration from office. The central government was also poised to take charge of Catalonia’s autonomous police force and the Catalan center for telecommunications.

Mr. Rajoy did not ask to dissolve the Catalan Parliament, but instead said that the president of the assembly would not be allowed to take any initiative judged to be contrary to Spain’s Constitution for a period of 30 days, including trying to propose another leader to replace Mr. Puigdemont.

Mr. Rajoy said that his goal was to arrange new Catalan elections within six months, so as to lift the measures taken under Article 155 as soon as possible.

It’s unclear, however, how such elections would be organized or whether they would significantly change Catalonia’s political landscape, let alone help to resolve the territorial conflict.

Mr. Puigdemont led a mass demonstration of 450,000 people in Barcelona, the region’s capital, on Saturday afternoon.

Protests in Barcelona on Saturday Video by La Vanguardia

In a televised address late Saturday, Mr. Puigdemont said he would convene Parliament next week to discuss the response to Mr. Rajoy; he did not rule out using the session to declare independence. He accused the Spanish government of trying to “eliminate our self-government and our democracy.”

In a part of his speech delivered in English, Mr. Puigdemont also addressed Europe’s politicians and citizens and suggested Europe’s “foundational values are at risk” in the dispute with Madrid. “Democratically deciding the future of a nation is not a crime,” he argued.

Other Catalan separatist politicians warned that Mr. Rajoy’s announcement would escalate rather than resolve the conflict.

Josep Lluís Cleries, a Catalan Senator, told reporters on Saturday that Mr. Rajoy was suspending not autonomy in Catalonia but democracy.

Carme Forcadell, the separatist president of the Catalan Parliament, pledged on Saturday evening to defend “the sovereignty” of her assembly. “We will not take a step back,” she told a news conference. “Mr. Rajoy isn’t conscious that by attacking the institutions, he is attacking the society of this country.”

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Oriol Junqueras, the region’s deputy leader, said in a tweet that Catalonia was “facing totalitarianism” and called on citizens to join the Barcelona protest on Saturday.

Significantly, Iñigo Urkullu, the leader of the Basque region, which also has a long history of separatism, described the measures as “disproportionate and extreme,” writing on Twitter that they would “dynamite the bridges” to any dialogue.

Faced with Madrid’s decision to remove him from office, Mr. Puigdemont could try to pre-empt Mr. Rajoy’s intervention and instead ask Catalan lawmakers to vote on a declaration of independence in coming days.

Mr. Puigdemont could also then try to convene Catalan elections, on his own terms, to form what he could describe as the first Parliament of a new Catalan republic.

His government has been flouting Spain’s Constitution since early September, when separatist lawmakers in the Catalan Parliament voted to hold a binding referendum on independence, as a key step toward statehood. An alliance of separatist parties has controlled the Parliament since 2015, after winning regional elections, but with only 48 percent of the vote.

Should Mr. Puigdemont resist Mr. Rajoy’s plans, Spain’s judiciary could separately step in and order that he and other separatists be arrested on charges of sedition or even rebellion for declaring independence.

Rebellion carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years. Earlier this week, a judge from Spain’s national court ordered prison without bail for two separatist leaders, pending a sedition trial.

Using Article 155 “was neither our desire nor our intention,” Mr. Rajoy said on Saturday, but had become the only way to to return Catalonia to legality, normality and maintain a Spanish economic recovery “which is now under clear danger because of the capricious and unilateral decisions” of the Catalan separatist government.

Mr. Rajoy highlighted the decision of over 1,000 Catalan companies this month to relocate their legal headquarters outside the region, in response to the uncertainty generated by the possibility of a breakup with Madrid.

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Mr. Rajoy received strong backing from politicians from the main opposition parties, with the notable exception of Podemos, the far-left party that wants to use a referendum to convince Catalan voters to remain within Spain.

“We’re shocked by the suspension of democracy in Catalonia,” Pablo Echenique, a senior official from Podemos, said in a news conference on Saturday.

Catalonia crisis: Puigdemont to ask region’s parliament to discuss ‘attack’ by Madrid

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Catalonia crisis: Puigdemont to ask region’s parliament to discuss ‘attack’ by Madrid

Rajoy urges removal of Catalan President 02:31

Story highlights

  • Catalan’s president was expected to address the pro-independence crowd Saturday
  • The region’s succession could have dire economic effects for Spain

Barcelona, Spain (CNN)[Breaking news update, posted at 3:35 p.m. ET]

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont will ask the region’s parliament to discuss Spain’s attempt to curb Catalan self-government, he said Saturday in a televised address. “The Catalan institutions and the people of Catalonia cannot accept this attack,” he said. He did not announce Catalan independence in the statement.
[Previous update, posted at 3:09 p.m. ET]
Nearly half a million people took to the streets Saturday in Barcelona, waving flags and banners in support of Catalonia’s independence from Spain.
The rally unfolded just hours after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced his government would invoke rarely used constitutional powers to remove Catalonia’s leaders.
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Demonstrators shouted, “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” and “Rajoy, Rajoy, so you know we are leaving!”
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont was among the protest crowd, which police estimated at 450,000 people. He was scheduled to speak later Saturday.
The unprecedented constitutional measures — intended to end Catalan leaders’ independence bid — fall under Article 155 of the Spanish constitution and would have to be sent to the Spanish Senate for approval. This would happen within the next week, Rajoy said.

Rajoy, left, called Saturday for the removal of Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.

The Madrid government announced Thursday that it would invoke Article 155, a provision that allows it to suspend the autonomy of the Catalan regional administration.
The move followed weeks of division triggered by a banned independence referendum on October 1.
Puigdemont on Thursday threatened that his wealthy northeastern region could formally declare independence if the Spanish government did not engage in dialogue.
Nearly 7.5 million people live in Catalonia. Spain’s population is almost 49 million.

Move to oust in Senate’s hands

Under the measures proposed Saturday by Rajoy, Puigdemont, his vice president and ministers would be suspended and replaced by the administration in Madrid, where necessary.
“The government had to enforce Article 155. It wasn’t our desire, nor our intention. It never was,” Rajoy said. “But in this situation, no government of any democratic country can accept that the law is ignored.”
In undertaking these steps, the government has four goals, Rajoy said. These are: to return to legality; to restore normality and coexistence in Catalonia; to continue the region’s economic recovery; and to hold elections under normal conditions.
“The autonomy is not suspended, nor the government,” he said. “People are removed who put the government outside the law, outside the constitution and outside statutes.”
New elections should be called for Catalonia within six months, Rajoy said, adding that he wants it to happen as soon as possible.
“The only way for Article 155 to be stopped is if the Senate votes it down,” he said.
Rajoy’s Popular Party holds a majority in the Senate. Two Spanish opposition parties, PSOE and Ciudadanos, have also said they will back the Article 155 measures, Rajoy said.
Senate Vice President Pedro Sanz said the Senate would hold a session Friday morning to vote on Article 155.
Spain’s national prosecutor’s office told CNN it is preparing to file charges of rebellion if Catalan authorities declare a declaration of independence. It did not name Puigdemont or any other officials as possible defendants.

Protesters to rally

The crisis threatens to fracture Spain, one of the European Union’s principal members, and has prompted mass public protests in Catalonia and elsewhere.
The immediate response of Catalan politicians appeared to be one of defiance.
“In the face of totalitarianism, today more than ever, we defend democracy and civil and political rights, you will find us there,” Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras said via Twitter.
“Today President Rajoy, in an act of enormous political irresponsibility, trespassed all limits. He announced a de facto coup d’etat with which he aims to take over Catalan institutions,” said Catalan Parliamentary leader Carme Forcadell.
Barcelona Mayor Ada Colao tweeted: “Rajoy has suspended the Catalan self-government for which so many people fought. A serious attack against the rights and freedom of many, here and everywhere.”
Puigdemont said Thursday that if Madrid “persists in blocking dialogue and the repression continues,” the Catalan parliament reserved the right to formalize a declaration of independence that was suspended on October 10.
At that session, Puigdemont said that Catalonia had “earned the right” to become an independent republic in its October 1 referendum, which was banned by Spain’s Constitutional Court. But he suspended the effects of the declaration to allow for talks.
Puigdemont also demanded Spain end its “repression” of Catalan separatist leaders, two of whom were taken into custody on suspicion of sedition earlier in the week.

People hold candles and a Catalan flag during a demonstration in Barcelona against the arrest of two Catalan separatist leaders on October 17.

More than 2.25 million people turned out to vote on October 1, with the regional government reporting that 90% of voters were in favor of a split from Madrid. But the turnout was low — around 43% of the voter roll — which Catalan officials blamed on the central government’s efforts to stop the referendum.
Violent scenes unfolded as national police sought to prevent people from casting their ballots.

Marchers demand the release of imprisoned Catalan leaders Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart on Saturday in Barcelona.

Rajoy urges unity

Rajoy said Saturday that Puigdemont had repeatedly rejected opportunities to talk to Madrid before calling the banned referendum and insisted his own government was acting to protect the interests of all Spaniards, especially Catalans.

Catalan families divided over independence

Catalan families divided over independence 01:48
“I am fully aware this moment is difficult but all together we are going to overcome (it), as we have previously overcome very complicated events throughout our history,” he said.
Rajoy also warned that an independent Catalonia would be outside the European Union and the World Trade Organization, with dire consequences for the region’s economic health.
A combination of higher tariffs, lack of access to credit and “disproportionate” inflation would lead to “impoverishment of the Catalan economy of between 25 and 30%,” he said.
Amid the uncertainty, businesses have already started to move their legal headquarters out of Catalonia, Spain’s economic powerhouse. According to a tweet Friday by the National Association of Registers, 1,185 companies began that process between October 2 and 19.
Spain’s King Felipe VI said Friday that Spain was facing an “unacceptable” attempt at secession and that Catalonia must continue to be a central part of the nation.
EU leaders have backed the Madrid government in its handling of the crisis, which Rajoy insists is an internal matter.
European Council President Donald Tusk described the Catalonia situation as “concerning” but said there was “no space for EU intervention,” in remarks Thursday in Brussels.

Catalan Leader Proclaims Independence But Suspends It

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Catalan leader proclaims independence but suspends it to allow talks with Madrid

The Spanish government has said any unilateral declaration of independence would be illegal and has promised action “to restore law and democracy”.

WORLD Updated: Oct 11, 2017 00:18 IST

Reuters, Barcelona
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont gestures during a plenary session in the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona, Spain, October 10, 2017.
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont gestures during a plenary session in the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona, Spain, October 10, 2017. (REUTERS)

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on Tuesday proclaimed the region’s independence from Spain but said its effects would be suspended to allow for talks with the Madrid government.

“I assume the mandate that Catalonia should become an independent state in the form of a republic … I propose suspending the effects of the declaration of independence to undertake talks to reach an agreed solution,” Puigdemont told the regional parliament in Barcelona.

Though Puigdemont stopped short of seeking the explicit support of the chamber for the declaration of independence in a vote, a move that would have closed the door to any negotiated solution, the declaration plunges Spain into the unknown.

The Spanish government has said any unilateral declaration of independence would be illegal and has promised action “to restore law and democracy” if the parliament of the autonomous and affluent northeastern region presses ahead.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy could take the unprecedented step of dissolving the Catalan parliament and triggering new regional elections, the so-called “nuclear option”.

The Madrid government could also ask the courts to strike down a declaration of independence as unconstitutional.

Despite renewed calls for dialogue with Madrid, the proclamation makes a negotiated solution more difficult as Rajoy has said he would not talk to the Catalan leaders until they drop plans for independence.