Madrid Prepared to Halt Article 155 if Catalan Premier Calls Early Elections
The Spanish government will not take the unprecedented step of activating Article 155 of the Constitution – which would allow it to take control of certain autonomous powers in Catalonia – should the regional premier, Carles Puigdemont, call early elections in the northeastern Spanish region, El Pais reports.
Thursday at 10am is the second deadline set by the Spanish government for Puigdemont to confirm whether or not he has unilaterally declared independence for Catalonia, after his ambiguous statement during a parliament session last week and subsequent failure to respond to a request for clarification from Madrid, the deadline which expired on Monday morning. Puigdemont responded to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy via a letter, but in it he failed to state whether or not he had declared independence.
If the regional premier does not make the required clarification on the independence declaration and return to an observance of Spanish law tomorrow, the central government is prepared to activate Article 155, which would allow it to suspend elements of Catalonia’s self-governance.
However, the activation of Article 155 is not automatic. The procedures required – which include approval from the Senate – could take several days, depending on the speed with which Rajoy wants to apply the process. This would open a window of opportunity for Puigdemont to call elections, given the difficult situation and internal tensions his Junts pel Sí party is suffering. The coalition is made up of two groups, the Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT) and the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), and is governing in a minority. It is supported by the CUP, a far-left anti-capitalist organization, which has been calling on Puigdemont to immediately and unequivocally declare independence and proclaim a Catalan republic.
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