Catalans declare independence as Madrid imposes direct rule

The Catalans regional parliament voted to declare independence from Spain, while the Spanish parliament approved direct rule over the region.

Catalonian MPs backed the proposal 70-10 in the ballot boycotted by the opposition.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told senators that direct rule is needed to restore “law, democracy and stability” in Catalonia.

The crisis began when Catalans backed the independence of the disputed vote earlier this month.

The Catalan government said 43 per cent of potential voters who took part in the referendum, 90 per cent for independence. But the Spanish Constitutional Court ruled against the lawfulness.

What happened in the Catalonian Parliament?

On Thursday, Catalonian President Carles Puigdemann decided to declare independence or to call early elections, rather than urging lawmakers to decide.

The proposal to declare independence was approved on Friday by 70 for 10
against and two restrained in the chamber with 135 seats.

The measure requires the transfer of legal powers from Spain to independent Catalonia.

But the Spanish Constitutional Court is likely to declare it illegal, and key international powers, including Germany, the EU and the US, back the Spanish position.
Mr. Puigdemon called on supporters to “sustain momentum” in a peaceful manner.

What will the Spanish government do next?

Soon after the vote in the regional parliament, the upper house of the Senate – Spain – made an unprecedented move to approve measures that allowed the Spanish government to impose direct rule over Catalonia.

There were 214 votes in favor and 47 against.

Seeking calm, Rayoy said: “Spain is a serious country, it is a great nation and we are not ready in any way to allow some people to liquidate our constitution.”

He will briefly hold a cabinet meeting to decide what measures should be taken.

It may include the firing of Catalan leaders, and the Spanish government has taken control of finances, police and state-owned media.

How did we get here?

After the referendum on October 1st, Puigdemong signed a declaration of independence, but postponed implementation to allow talks with the Spanish government.

The deadline set by Madrid to clarify his intentions came and went, prompting
Mr. Rajoy to announce plans to impose a direct rule.

Catalonia is one of the richest, most recognizable regions in Spain and enjoys a high degree of autonomy.

But many Catalans feel they are paying more in Madrid than they are returning, and there are also historical complaints, especially Catalonia’s treatment under the dictatorship of General Franco.

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