Catalonia Declared Independence, the Spanish Senate took away its Autonomy
The regional parliament of Catalonia decided to separate the area from Spain and to declare the Catalan Republic, Reuters reported.
Separatist-oriented MPs burst into applause at the announcement after the secret ballot of the resolution, adopted by 70 votes in favor, 10 against and 2 abstentions. Previously, the Catalan legislators took another decision - to initiate a "founding process" to separate the province from Spain. This resolution provides for the drafting of a constitution and for the start of negotiations "on an equal footing" with the Madrid government for co-operation. Most opposition MPs - the Socialists, the People's Party - boycotted the vote and left the room. Minutes later, the Spanish Senate approved the introduction of direct government in Catalonia, and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called for peace. "I will call on all Spaniards for peace, the rule of law will restore legitimacy to Catalonia," Rajoy wrote in Twitter minutes after the controversial vote in the Catalan Parliament, which is likely to be declared illegal by the central authorities.
At the beginning of the parliamentary session in Barcelona, the spokesman for the main opposition party, Ciudadanos (Citizens), Carlos Carrizosa, waving the resolution on independence, told regional Prime Minister Carles Puigdemont: "This document, written by you, the holy thing - the cohabitation in Catalonia."
"With this document, you are leaving the Catalans who do not support you, orphaned, without a government, so Ciudadanos will not allow you to defeat Catalonia," Carlos Carrizosa added, cutting off his copy of the resolution.
"Today is a sad, dramatic day in Catalonia." Today is the day when you (the separatists) are fighting your democracy in Spain, "the spokesman for Ciudadanos said. The separatists have a minimal majority in the Catalan Parliament, although they have taken less than half of the votes because of the Spanish electoral law, which gives a stronger representation of less populated areas.
Thousands of people gathered in front of the Catalonian parliament to support the autonomous region's quest for secession from Spain, they began to enjoy and dance after the regional legislative assembly passed a resolution on independence, the Associated Press reported. The crowd watched the process of voting and counting live on television.
Spanish Senate Approves Direct Government of Catalonia
After the Autonomous Region declared independence from Spain, the Senate, the upper house of the Spanish Parliament, authorized the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to direct Catalonia from Madrid. The Senate took the decision to trigger Article 155 of the Constitution by 214 votes in favor, 47 against and one abstention. The majority of members of the Spanish Senate have voted the prime minister to be authorized to take unprecedented until now constitutional measures to establish control over Catalonia, including the dismissal of Catalan Prime Minister Carles Puigdemont and his government and limiting the powers of the regional parliament. Now, the Spanish government must decide how and when to implement the measures. They says they are temporary and aim to restore legality in Catalonia, notes Associated Press. The Spanish Prime Minister has decided to convene an extraordinary meeting of the government tonight, Vanguardia reports.
In a speech to Senators, Rajoy said that if the government were to consent to trigger Article 155 of the constitution, which would allow it to direct Catalonia, its first decision would be to sack Catalonian leader Carles Puigdemont and his ministers. Rajoy underlined that the direct intervention of the central government in Catalonia is not intended to deprive the Catalans of rights and freedoms, but to protect them. The situation in Catalonia is "a clear violation of laws, democracy, the rights of all, and that has consequences," the Spanish prime minister said.
Rajoy said that Catalan Prime Minister Carles Puigdemont could stop the escalation of the crisis but refused to do so. "He and he alone" is responsible for triggering Article 155 of the constitution, Rajoy said. "This is a legitimate, democratic mechanism that has been approved by the Spaniards and exists in the vast majority of the countries that surround us," said the Spanish Prime Minister. Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution has never been triggered since the re-establishment of democracy in Spain four decades ago.
In many areas, Catalonia has succeeded in gaining the right to autonomy since, after the death of the dictator General Francis Franco in 1975, the French Democracy in Spain has been restored. Education, health and the rule of law and security are all areas where the region has the power to manage its own affairs. Rajoy proposes Madrid to take control of the regional administration, which employs nearly 200,000 people. How exactly central government will work for now is unclear. One possible option is for the Spanish Ministries to directly control the relevant regional authorities. In the words of Rajoy, the temporary authority will have the right to fire civil servants, and all decisions by the regional administration will be subject to mandatory approval by Madrid. In all 17 Autonomous Communities of Spain, the right to convene early regional elections is exclusively by regional governments. Rajoy wants temporarily, as far as Catalonia is concerned, to transfer this right to him. The Spanish Prime Minister intends to commit to months to convene extraordinary regional elections. At present, the Catalan separatists, who won a total of 48 percent of the votes in the last 2015 elections, hold 72 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament.
Rajoy will most likely hope to call early elections to tilt the balance of power in favor of the political formations that are against independence - especially for those who worry about pulling hundreds of companies out of the headquarters because of fears of possible stay of independent Catalonia outside the EU. Although the Spanish Prime Minister does not want the Catalan Parliament to be dissolved, he wants to limit his powers. In particular, parliament may not appoint a new regional prime minister, while Rahoy does not call early regional elections. In addition, he will not be able to exercise parliamentary control over the activity of the temporary authority that will be appointed after the current regional government has been removed - a mandate foreseen to go temporarily under the Spanish Senate. The Catalan Parliament will not have the power to adopt legislation contrary to Article 155 and the central government will have the right to veto bills.
Catalonia and the Basque Country are the only two autonomous districts in Spain with their own police. The Spanish authorities want to take direct control of the Catalonian police, known as Mossos d'Esquadra, and warned that they would consider adding to the presence of the Spanish National Police as well as of the Spanish Ministry of Interior's gendarmerie subdivisions, as the Civil Guard.
José Trapero, the head of Mossos d'Esquadra, is already under investigation by the Spanish authorities for undermining anti-state activities. Madrid will step up its control over the regional treasury, in particular by making sure that no budget or proceeds are used to promote separatism from Spain. On the eve of the referendum on 1 October, Madrid put in direct control over the budget of Catalonia in an attempt to thwart the vote. According to Rajoy's intentions, the Spanish authorities will also oversee the management of Catalan public television and public radio stations, which have emerged as one of the main hurdles of separating from Spain. His government will "ensure the transmission of reliable, objective and balanced information," and "respecting the values and principles of the Spanish Constitution and its provisions regarding Catalonia," Rajoy said.
Tusk: Announcement of the independence of Catalonia does not change anything The decision of the Catalan Parliament to declare the Spanish Autonomous Community Independent does not change anything about the EU, and he will continue to talk only with Spain, European Council President Donald Tusk told Reuters.
"There is nothing for the EU, Spain remains our only interlocutor," Tusk wrote in Twitter. He urged the Spanish government to choose "the power of the argument, not the argument of power".
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