Spain Dismisses Catalonia Government After Region Declares Independence

As of Friday evening it was unclear whether or not separatist leaders — who hours earlier exulted on the independence declaration — would resist. The temper within the metropolis of Barcelona was a mixture of intense pleasure 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 mentioned.

The steps introduced by Mr. Rajoy imply Spain will take direct management over one of many nation’s autonomous areas for the primary time since Spain embraced democracy below the 1978 Constitution.

At the top of what he known as “a sad day” for Spaniards, Mr. Rajoy assured them that he had the means to finish a secessionist risk that, he mentioned, was based mostly on “lies, frauds and impositions.”

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Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain spoke after the Senate voted on Friday to grant him powers to take direct administrative management over the Catalan area.

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Juanjo Martin/European Pressphoto Agency

He eliminated the Catalan chief, Carles Puigdemont, and his cupboard, as nicely the director common of the autonomous police power. He additionally ordered Catalonia’s consultant workplaces abroad to shut.

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

Pending the elections and formation of a brand new regional authorities, Mr. Rajoy mentioned, Catalonia’s administration could be run from Madrid.

Fueled by a definite language and tradition in addition to financial grievances, aspirations for a separate state have percolated for generations in Catalonia earlier than boiling over this month.

The occasions on Friday, coming within the chaotic aftermath of an Oct. 1 independence referendum in Catalonia, have been greeted variously with anger, concern and elation on each side, with the prospect of much more risky confrontations in days forward because the Spanish authorities strikes to place the steps in place.

Spain’s lawyer common could now search to detain Catalan leaders on grounds of revolt.

Such strikes have been more likely to flip the boisterous separatist avenue celebrations that greeted the independence declaration on Friday into mass protests, with one Catalan labor union already calling on staff to stage a common strike on Monday.

During the controversy within the regional parliament that preceded their vote for independence, Catalan lawmakers traded accusations and in flip described the event as “historic” and “happy,” or else “tragic” and a violation of Spain’s Constitution — maybe the one factor on which each side 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 grab direct administrative management over the area and take away secessionist politicians, together with Mr. Puigdemont, the Catalan chief.

In a speech on Friday earlier than the vote, Mr. Rajoy had mentioned he had “no alternative” as a result of Mr. Puigdemont and his separatist authorities had pursued an unlawful and unilateral path that was “contrary to the normal behavior in any democratic country like ours.”

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Separatist lawmakers within the Catalan Parliament applauded after the decision handed. Those against independence walked out in protest earlier than the vote.

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David Ramos/Getty Images

Undeterred by Mr. Rajoys risk, and after a bitter debate, separatists within the Catalan Parliament handed a decision to create “a Catalan republic as an independent state.”

Most of the opponents to independence walked out of the chamber in protest earlier than the vote, which the remaining lawmakers held by way of secret poll, conscious that declaring independence from Spain may threat arrest.

The ultimate tally was 70 in favor, 10 towards, and two clean votes.

Since the referendum , Mr. Puigdemont had been squeezed in a tightening vise of his personal creation, and appeared at instances to contradict his personal declarations as he squirmed for a manner out.

Mr. Puigdemont, a former small metropolis mayor, was trapped between the calls for from Catalan hard-liners to declare independence on one facet, and, on the opposite facet, the stiffening response from a Rajoy authorities decided to protect the nation’s Constitution and territorial integrity.

Despite pleas for mediation, he and his area’s independence bid have been shunned and condemned, not solely by Madrid but in addition by European Union officers cautious of encouraging equally minded secessionist actions across the Continent.

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

Searching for a compromise, Mr. Puigdemont got here shut on Thursday to calling early regional elections in hopes of preventing the drastic measures accredited by the Spanish Senate on Friday and preserving Catalonia’s autonomy.

But Madrid would supply no assure that it will not clamp down on the area, Mr. Puigdemont mentioned, as he instantly confronted a revolt in his personal ranks from secessionist hard-liners who known as him a traitor.

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

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

In entrance of the meeting, he tore aside a duplicate of the independence decision. “Your job is not to promise unrealizable dreams but to improve the daily lives of people,” he mentioned.

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

Catalan lawmakers who voted for independence may face prosecution for sedition, and even revolt.

Marta Ribas, a Catalan lawmaker, mentioned that Madrid’s use of Article 155 was unjustified, but in addition 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 exterior the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona, not removed from a boisterous pro-independence rally, a couple of Catalans quietly expressed comparable frustrations.

The Oct. 1 referendum didn’t give the Catalan authorities the legitimacy to vote to secede, mentioned Federico Escolar, 53, a restaurant proprietor.

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

Walking into a close-by subway station, Cristina Juana, a 38-year-old social employee, agreed.

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

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

Many have been draped in flags as they watched the parliamentary debate on two giant screens, cheering throughout speeches by pro-independence lawmakers and hissing these of their opponents. When proceedings hit a lull, the crowds cycled by means of a collection of pro-independence chants.

“Spanish occupiers!” was one, a reference to the nationwide law enforcement officials who tried to cease the Oct. 1 referendum by power. “Leave Catalonia!”

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