The Spanish region of Catalonia that once enjoyed a considerable amount of autonomy is now under the direct control of Madrid.
The Spanish prime minister dissolved Catalonia’s parliament, just hours after the regional body voted Friday in favor of independence from Spain.
In addition to dismissing parliament, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called for snap Catalan elections Dec. 21 and has stripped Catalonia’s most senior police officials of their powers.
Resolution to secede
The resolution to secede from Spain was drafted and presented to Catalonia’s parliament by the more radical separatist factions of the regional coalition headed by Catalonia President Carles Puigdemont. It passed with 70 votes in favor, 10 against, and two blank votes.
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Spain’s ruling center-right Popular Party and the mainstream opposition socialists, who hold just under half the seats in the Catalan parliament, boycotted the session.
Spain’s Senate responded to Catalonia’s independence move by approving the application of constitutional article 155, which officially authorizes the central government to suspend Catalan authorities and take over the region’s administration.
Immediately following the Spanish senate vote to impose direct rule on Catalonia, the government issued an official bulletin announcing that Puigdemont and his Vice President Orio Junqueras were no longer the heads of the Catalonia regional government.
“We will not allow a group of people to liquidate the country,” said Prime Minister Rajoy.
Catalan leader Puigdemont encouraged supporters to “maintain the momentum” of an independent Catalonia in a peaceful manner.
Allies back Spain
The European Union Council President Donald Tusk, who has supported Madrid’s approach to the crisis, said via Twitter that he hoped “the Spanish government favors force of argument, not argument of force.”
NATO, of which Spain is a member, said in a statement, “The Catalonia issue is a domestic matter which should be resolved within Spain’s constitutional order.”
Madrid’s efforts to keep the country united also has the continued support of the U.S. government. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement, “… the United States supports the Spanish government’s constitutional measures to keep Spain strong and united.”
Voters in Catalonia voted in favor of independence in an Oct. 1 referendum, but fewer than half of those eligible to cast a ballot took part, with opponents boycotting the process. Rajoy’s government has dismissed the referendum as illegal.