Spain PM approves taking back powers from Catalonia

22 October, 2017, 02:11 | Author: Boyd Miller
  • Protester held a Catalonian independence flag toward riot police during demonstrations Thursday

However, the Catalan leader called on the regional parliament to suspend the proclamation in order to make way for dialogue with Madrid. In a sign of the deeply entrenched divisions between Madrid and the restive region, he signalled to local politicians that they should press ahead with independence.

In response, protesters wrapped in red-and-yellow Catalan flags flooded the streets of central Barcelona on Saturday, holding up signs calling for freedom.

About 90 per cent of voters opted to break off from Spain, but turnout was only 43 per cent, and the Spanish Constitutional Court said the ballot was illegal.

Mr Puigdemont claimed the referendum result gave him a mandate to pursue independence.

Supporters say the region does too much to prop up the rest of the national economy and would thrive if it went its own way, but opponents say Catalonia is stronger as part of Spain and that a split would spell economic and political disaster. Other Catalan leaders described it as a coup.

Earlier in the day, the Spanish authorities chose to invoke Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which envisages suspension of some Catalonia's autonomy under specific conditions.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's Cabinet was meeting to outline the scope and timing of the measures the government plans to take under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.

It states that if a region's government "acts in a way that seriously threatens the general interest of Spain", Madrid can "take necessary measures to oblige it forcibly to comply".

Madrid could also seek to force new elections - its preferred solution to Spain's most protracted political crisis since it returned to democracy in 1977 - as early as January.

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The goal is 'the return to legality and the recovery of institutional normalcy, ' the prime minister said Friday.

"We must reiterate our absolute support for the democratic institutions of Catalonia chosen by its people", Josep Maria Bartomeu said, urging a "civil and peaceful" reaction to Rajoy's decision.

He says "we demand respect for Barcelona and the plurality of its members".

Mr Rajoy has stopped short of dissolving Catalonia's parliament but will hold elections for the region within six months.

The slow-burning constitutional crisis over secession escalated this month when regional government officials held a disputed independence referendum on October 1. Their duties will be carried out by the corresponding ministries in the Madrid government during what the government has declared a crisis.

The exact measures must be agreed and voted upon in Spain's upper house, the Senate, and Rajoy wants the broadest consensus possible.

Catalonia's vice president was one of the first regional cabinet members to react to the announcement that Spanish authorities are seeking to dissolve the cabinet and take control of the prosperous territory.

During the meeting, which started around 10:00 am (0800 GMT), Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his ministers will decide on what powers to take away from the wealthy region, which now enjoys wide autonomy including control over its own policing, education and healthcare.


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