- Catalonia voted to declare independence from Spain.
- Immediately after the vote, the Spanish Senate approved Article 155, which allows the government to take control over Catalonia.
- Hours later, the Prime Minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy announced he fired the entire Catalan government, including President Carles Puigdemont.
- Rajoy wants to hold new elections on December 21.
- Events came to a head after Catalan President Carles Puigdemont refused to dissolve parliament on Thursday.
- Catalans voted to secede from Spain in an October 1 referendum.
- Spanish stocks have dropped sharply.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fired the cabinet of the Catalan government and dissolved its Parliament just hours after Catalan lawmakers voted to declare independence from Spain.
Rajoy has also called for elections in the Catalan region to be held on December 21, 2017, claiming his authority under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution and bringing to a head an unprecedented four-week long power struggle over the region.
The aim is not to suspend the autonomy of Catalonia nor to undermine the region, the prime minister said in a statement, but to restore the rule of law.
Rajoy also announced the closure of the Catalan embassies that had been opened abroad and the firing of the director general of the Catalan police.
Catalonia delcared independence earlier Friday
Politicians in the regional parliament in Barcelona voted to become a sovereign independent state against Spain’s wishes earlier Friday. This followed the October 1 referendum, in which 2.2 million Catalans, or 43% of the region’s eligible electorate, voted to leave Spain on a day marred with violence.
Just 40 minutes after the vote in the Parlament de Catalunya, the Spanish Senate in Madrid approved Article 155, which allows the Spanish government to take control of the autonomous region of Catalonia.
The Catalan vote — which needed a majority of 68 “yes” votes — passed with 70 ballots in favour, 10 against, and two blank. As the meeting came to a close, deputies stood and sang “Els Segadors,” the Catalan national anthem.
Carme Forcadell, the president of the parliament, also asked the European Union to recognise Catalonia as a sovereign nation. The EU is unlikely to do so, having said earlier this month that Catalonia’s independence referendum was illegal.
Immediately after the vote, the European Council’s president, Donald Tusk, tweeted: “For EU nothing changes. Spain remains our only interlocutor.” Meanwhile, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said, “No one in the European Union is going to recognise that declaration.”
After the Catalan vote to declare independence, Puigdemont told Catalan deputies:
“You all represent this link between institutions and people, so we can construct the country together.
“This is in our hands, in your hands, to strengthen all the fundamental principles that make Catalonia a very old nation in Europe, with its own culture and language, but mainly we want to build a society in the same line as we’ve always been, responding to democratic principles in a civic way.
“Long live Catalonia.”
Many European countries don’t recognise Catalonia’s independence
Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel said, “A political crisis can only be solved through dialogue. We call for a peaceful solution with respect for national and international order.”
A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Theresa May also said Britain would not recognise the “illegal” declaration, and that it wished to see “the rule of law upheld, the Spanish Constitution respected, and Spanish unity preserved,” Sky News reported.
The US State Department has pledged its support for Spain and called for unity. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the “Catalonia issue must be resolved within Spain’s constitutional order. Spain is committed Ally [sic], with important contributions to our security.”
Scotland’s Culture and External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop, meanwhile, said, “We understand and respect the position of the Catalan Government. While Spain has the right to oppose independence, the people of Catalonia must have the ability to determine their own future.”