The Catalan Parliament has voted to declare independence from Spain on Friday afternoon, with seventy lawmakers voting in favour, 10 against, while two cast blank ballots. The decision was made during a secret vote in Barcelona, thus giving green light to found a new republic.
The names of those who voted for independence was withheld, as the Spanish attorney general promised to charge those who voted in favour of independence with “rebellion”.
In retort to the Catalan authorities’ move, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced late on Friday that he is dissolving the Catalan parliament and is calling snap local elections for December 21. Rajoy said the unprecedented imposition of direct rule on Catalonia was essential to “recover normality”.
He is also firing Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his cabinet.
Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has launched an appeal for calm previously in the day, warning that Spain will re-establish the constitutional order in Catalonia. “I call for calm. The rule of law principles will be quickly re-established in Catalonia”, Rajoy said, as quoted by El Pais.
The declaration of independence comes as the Spanish government is set to vote on the application of Article 155 of the Constitution, which allows Madrid to directly administer the breakaway region.
Two right-wing parties, Citizens (Cs) and People’s Party (PP), along with the centre-left Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSC), left the Catalan parliament before the vote in protest.
Earlier in the day, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy addressed the Spanish Senate, from which an absolute majority of votes was required to enact Article 155.
Rajoy also asked for the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont’s dismissal, arguing he “was the one who decided to continue moving forward with the process for applying Article 155”.
The Spanish PM has said he was calling for exceptional measures because there was no other choice and said “law, democracy and stability” needed to be rendered to Catalonia. Rajoy claimed four reasons for enacting the article: returning to legality, recovering trust, maintaining high levels of economic growth while creating new jobs and celebrating elections in a situation of normalcy.