- Catalonia voted to declare independence from Spain.
- Immediately after the vote, the Spanish Senate approved Article 155, which will allow the government to take control over Catalonia.
- Mariano Rajoy, the country’s prime minister, wants to depose the Catalan president and hold new elections.
- Events came to a head after Catalan President Carles Puigdemont refused to dissolve parliament on Thursday.
- Catalonians voted to secede from Spain during a referendum on October 1.
- Spanish stocks have dropped sharply.
Catalan lawmakers have voted to declare independence from Spain, bringing to a head an unprecedented four-week power struggle over the region.
Politicians in the regional parliament in Barcelona voted to become a sovereign independent state against Spain’s wishes. It follows the October 1 referendum, in which 2.2 million Catalonians voted to leave Spain.
Just 40 minutes after the vote in the Parlament de Catalunya, the Spanish Senate in Madrid approved Article 155, which will allow the government to take control of Catalonia.
The Catalan vote — which needed a majority of 68 “yes” votes — passed with 70 ballots in favour, 19 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 EU 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, European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted: “For EU nothing changes. Spain remains our only interlocutor.”
It is unclear which of Catalonia’s powers will be suspended if Article 155 is activated by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for the first time since the nation’s existing constitution was introduced in 1978.
While the article’s language is vague, it allows the government to “take the necessary measures” if an autonomous region “seriously undermines the general interest of Spain.” Madrid can, in theory, take control of Catalonia’s police and finances, and replace its administration, Reuters reported.
Rajoy told Senate on Friday that he wants to depose Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, replace the regional administration, and hold new parliamentary elections within six months.
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.”
Events came to a head on Friday after Puigdemont refused to dissolve the regional parliament on Thursday. Spanish stocks dropped sharply after the independence declaration.
This story is developing.