Spain sacks Catalan government after independence declaration, calls snap election

Lawrence Cooper
October 28, 2017

Catalonia's separatist lawmakers burst into applause in Barcelona today after the regional parliament voted 70-10 in favor of creating an independent Republic.

In a momentous move, the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona has voted for a declaration of independence from Spain.

Fears for Catalonia's economy have increased as uncertainty persists over the independence d*rive, with some 1,600 companies already having moved their legal headquarters out of the region.

The measure calls for the transfer of legal powers from Spain to an independent Catalonia.

In a historic day, the Catalan parliament declared independence and the Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy announced direct rule over the region, sacked the cabinet and announced new elections. Regional President Carles Puigdemont and his vice president, Oriol Junqueras, exchanged congratulatory embraces and handshakes following the ballot.

Hours earlier in Madrid, Rajoy made his case for measures to keep Spain unified.

What is happening in Catalonia is "a clear violation of the laws, of democracy, of the rights of all, and that has consequences", he said.

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The Spanish Senate is now debating applying Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution to Catalonia to sack Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his executive, and hand control of Catalan institutions to Madrid.

It could include the firing of Catalan leaders, and the Spanish government taking control of the region's finances, police and publicly owned media.

Opponents of independence accused Puigdemont and his allies of ignoring the views of the majority of Catalans who wished to remain part of Spain. Article 155 has never been used before and it is unclear how it will be enforced in practice. Madrid, which deemed it unconstitutional, has faced strong criticism for its harsh crackdown on the effort including attempts to thwart the vote and violence by Spanish national police. "We can only hope that the conflict remains in the political realm".

Before the parliament session, large crowds of independence supporters gathered outside in a Barcelona park, waving Catalan flags and chanting slogans in favor of a new state.

Carlos Carrizosa, spokesman for the pro-union Citizens party, the leading opposition party in Catalonia's parliament, ripped a copy of the proposal into pieces during the debate ahead of the vote.

Ms Hyslop said: "We understand and respect the position of the Catalan Government".

There was a possibility that Puigdemont could have called early elections instead of declaring independence, which might have softened Spain's response.

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