Catalan parliament defies Madrid, declares independence

Catalan People's party (PPC) group members protest by waving Spanish and Catalan flags prior to the voting of the declaration of a unilateral independence, during the plenary session at the Parliament in Barcelona, northeastern Spain, 27 October 2017. [Alberto Estevez/ EPA]

Catalonia’s parliament declared independence from Spain in a historic vote on Friday (27 October), setting the scene for a showdown with Madrid, which has announced it would strip the breakaway region of its autonomy.

The parliament approved a motion to establish “the independent Catalan republic” with the final score of 70 in favour, 10 opposed and two blank ballots. The opposition had walked out and refused to vote.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont dismissed a plea from opposition deputies this week to find a solution to the standoff with Madrid, closely watched by Brussels.

The European Union has been particularly wary of any secessionist sentiment after Britain’s decision to leave the bloc. It has said that Catalonia was Spain’s internal issue.

Minutes after the Catalan vote, Spain’s Senate approved direct rule by the central government over the wealthy eastern region, under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. In other words, it gave Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy the authority to take direct control of the regional administration in Barcelona.

Rajoy said the rule of law would be reinstated in Catalonia and appealed to everyone to stay calm.

 

Spain has never before invoked Article 155 and Rajoy told parliament in Madrid before the vote that Catalan separatists had left his government with no choice but to take drastic measures to halt the region’s independence drive

Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Catalonia: what does it mean?

The Spainsh government will trigger Article 155, a constitutional process that will strip Catalonia of its regional autonomy. But how will the process work? EURACTIV Spain reports.

Catalonia’s 1 October independence referendum was ruled illegal by Spain’s constitutional court, and the regional government’s decision to push ahead regardless has caused the worst political crisis in Spain since its transition to democracy in the 1970s.

Earlier on Friday, the Madrid stock exchange dropped 1% bucking the bullish trend of most European stocks. The benchmark IBEX 35 index of major companies shed about 1% in value in early afternoon deals.