The Catalan regional parliament had voted to declare its independence from Spain less than an hour before a vote from the Senate of the country gave Madrid the authority to seize the autonomous power of the region.
Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime Minister, initially told the senators that direct rule is needed to return the democracy, law, and stability to Catalonia.
The Article 155 of Spain’s 1978 Constitution was never used before in democratic Spain. It’s been tagged as the government’s “nuclear option.” However, the Senate is expected to vote in favor of triggering Article 155 and strip Catalonia of its autonomous powers. This might include the firing of the leaders, and the Spanish government is taking full authority of the region’s police, finances, and even publicly owned media.
The crisis started during the early days of the month when Catalonia held a controversial referendum on independence. According to the Catalan government, out of 43% of their potential voters who took part, 90% of them wants to gain independence. However, the Constitutional Court of Spain ruled the voting as illegal.
The Catalan Parliament
The motion, declaring the transfer of legal powers from Spain to Independent Catalonia, was approved on Friday. Out of 135-seat chamber, 70 in favor, ten against it, and two absentations.
However, the Spanish Constitutional Court declared it illegal. Other countries such as the US, UK, France, and Germany, expressed their support for the Spanish unity.
The European Commission chief, Jean-Claude Juncker, stated that EU doesn’t need any more cracks or splits while Catalan President Charles Puigdemont asked the supporters to maintain the momentum but in a peaceful manner.
Currently, people were celebrating the declaration of Catalonia’s independence. Spanish flags were removed from some government buildings, too.
During the session vote, the pro-independence crowd waited outside. Some of them were even on speaker phones to let other people know what is happening. They cheered when they hear a “yes” vote while booed when they hear a “no.” At the end of the vote counting, there was a huge cheer from the crowd.
What will the Spanish Government do?
After the vote at the regional parliament, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the senators in Spain’s upper house, also called “the Senate” to approve measures that allow the Spanish government to impose direct rule over Catalonia.
“Spain is a serious country, it is a great nation, and we are not prepared in any way to allow some people to liquidate our constitution.”
He also accused the government of Catalan of dividing the families and fracturing the society. According to PM Rajoy, a lot of people already suffered much and the uncertainty is driving businesses out of the region.
“The thing that Catalans need protecting from is not what they’re calling Spanish imperialism, but a minority who, in an intolerant way, declare themselves the owners of Catalonia and consider as exclusive a history, culture and feelings that are the heritage of the community.”
The Spanish government believes that it is the only way to calm the crisis but the Catalan leaders think otherwise.