To effectively quash all aspirations of independence, as sought by 90 percent of voters in a recent referendum, Spanish officials are attempting to invoke unprecedented powers against semi-autonomous Catalonia — up to and including the dissolution of its parliament and removal of President Carles Puigdemont — in continued actions deemed reminiscent of the dictatorial reign of Francisco Franco.
In response to a vehement push toward regional autonomy, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has urged the implementation of Article 155 of the Constitution, which imposes direct rule by Spain over any of its semi-autonomous regional governments during crisis — this crisis, being the possible cleaving of an area responsible for one-fifth of its parent’s economy — a dire situation sparking clashes and violence for some time.
Rajoy contends the move for Catalan independence is “contrary to the law and seeking confrontation,” but added it was “not our wish, it was not our intention” — referring to national officials — to trigger the use of the article.
Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras said of Rajoy and his allies, according to the BBC, they have “not just suspended autonomy. They have suspended democracy.”
Likewise, Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau called the move by Spanish officials a “serious attack on the rights and freedoms of all, both here and elsewhere.”
“Puigdemont and his regional administration will be removed from office once the Spanish Senate approves the government’s plan as soon as this week and Spanish government ministers will take over the management of the Catalan administration, Rajoy said according to Bloomberg,” Zero Hedge reports. “The responsibilities of the Catalan government will be administered in the interim period by central government ministries. Furthermore, the Catalan Parliament will not be allowed to present a new candidate for First Minister, to prevent Puigdemont from being reappointed.
“Rajoy said, ‘This is not a suspension of home rule but the dismissal of those who lead the regional government.’ The Spanish Senate will be in charge of controlling the process. As a result, Rajoy said Spain’s central government would temporarily control Catalonia’s regional ministries until new elections are called. The prime minister said he is seeking to convene regional elections within six months.”
Spain had declared the Catalan Referendum illegal — and, thus, banned the October 1 vote from proceeding — then, expectedly, deployed law enforcement in riot gear to bloody into submission millions thronging to polls. All told, around nine in ten Catalans cast a vote in favor of independence — and greater say in their own governance and representation.
“We are going to work to return to normality,” Rajoy declared to an exuberant crowd in Madrid. “We are going to work so that all Catalans can feel united and participate in a common project in Europe and the world that has been known for centuries as Spain.”
Indeed, though the passion of independence-seekers and the dedication of voters enduring thuggish police tactics splashed prominently across headlines this month, independent nationhood status isn’t a unanimous regional goal, by far.
However, the national government’s violent repression against the unarmed and arguably underrepresented has won the Catalan referendum international support.
Whatever next unfolds — an acknowledged unknown, given this would be the first invocation of Article 155 of the Constitution, ever — the eyes of the world will undoubtedly scrutinize responses from both Spanish and Catalan officials.
Whether this moment of an announced and coming power play will also signal the onset of a revolution, in any capacity, may soon be clear.
In steely determination, meantime, the Catalan Parliament — run, the BBC says, by pro-independence parties — tweeted its feelings on the initiative undertaken by Mr. Rajoy, asserting plainly,
“The time has come. Goodbye 155, hello Catalan Republic.”
Image: Wikimedia Commons/SBA73.