After Catalonia declared its independence, Spain’s Prime Minister (PM) Mariano Rajoy was granted special constitutional power on Friday by the Senate to dismiss the Catalan president and Parliament.
The country’s political crisis has never been this complicated and heightened. After the passing of General Francisco Franco, Spain began its transition to a democracy and in 1978, the constitution confirmed the nation as a parliamentary monarchy.
After the region declared its secession, a special hearing was held in the Senate where PM Rajoy was granted extraordinary powers. Consequently, he called for a new regional election to be held in Catalonia on December 21, according to Reuters.
“Spain is living through a sad day,” Rajoy said. “We believe it is urgent to listen to Catalan citizens, to all of them, so that they can decide their future and nobody can act outside the law on their behalf.”
Also, a separate New York Times news report corroborated that the Spanish Senate voted 214 to 47 to invoke Article 155 of the Spanish constitution. In other words, it allows PM Rajoy to seize administrative control that includes removing secessionist Catalan politicians and Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.
This showdown stems from the independence referendum held on October 1, which was subsequently deemed illegal by Madrid. The turnout was just 43 percent as Catalans opposed the withdrawal of Catalonia from Spain. In addition, another New York Times report confirmed the clashes and confrontations between national police officers and voters.
“National police officers in riot gear, sent by the central government in Madrid from other parts of Spain, used rubber bullets and truncheons in some places as they fanned out across Catalonia…”
Catalonia remains one of the most important economies in Europe and one of the wealthiest in Spain. The Catalan region is the industrial heartland for maritime power, trade in goods (textiles), finance, services, and tech companies. The Telegraph explains that the Catalonia economy accounts for 19 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product (GDP).
As the events unfolded, world leaders provided their reactions on Twitter. Among the first to do so was European Council President Donald Tusk, who said nothing changes for the European Union (EU).
For EU nothing changes. Spain remains our only interlocutor. I hope the Spanish government favours force of argument, not argument of force.— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) October 27, 2017
Elsewhere, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged his full support to PM Rajoy, while The European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker said the EU did not need more fissures.
Historically, the relationship between Catalonia and Madrid has been contentious. As to why the referendum transpired, a Marketplace article attributed this secession attempt to purely economic reasons. Spain’s political and economic future remains uncertain.
[Featured Image by Paul White/AP Images]