Spain will move to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy, the government said on Thursday (18 October), after Catalan President Carles Puigdemont refused to drop the region’s drive to break away from Madrid following the 1 October independence vote.
The announcement came on the day when EU leaders meet in Brussels for two days of high-level talks, where the Catalonia issue was not originally scheduled for discussion. There are fears that moving to impose direct rule could further aggravate a crisis that has already worried investors and prompted some businesses to relocate from Catalonia.
The Spanish government has noted the refusal of the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, to respond to the request that urged him to reinstate the altered constitutional order and, as a result, will continue with the procedures provided for in Article 155 of the Constitution, a cabinet statement said.
It said Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is due in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, has called an extraordinary Council of Ministers meeting for Saturday to approve the measures that will raise the Senate to “protect the general interest of the Spanish people, including the citizens of Catalonia, and restore constitutional order in the Autonomous Community”.
Catalan President Puigdemont declared independence based on the referendum results, immediately suspended independence and sought a dialogue with Spain, which had earlier dismissed the referendum as unconstitutional.
Spain responded by requesting that the government return to the legal order by last Monday (16 October), and then set another deadline for Thursday. The central government also offered a Constitutional reform to review Spain’s territorial model.
On Monday, Puigdemont declined to accept the Constitutional order as he insisted on the referendum results. “More than two million Catalans entrusted to the parliament the democratic mandate to declare independence,” he said in the letter sent to the central government.