Spain PM approves taking back powers from Catalonia

Ivan Schwartz
October 22, 2017

"They can destroy the government, they can destroy everything they want but we'll keep on fighting".

Puigdemont said the Saturday decision by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to fire the regional government and force a new election, which will be effective next Friday, was "the worst attack against the institutions and the people of Catalonia since the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco".

Mr Rajoy's government is activating a previously untapped constitutional article to take control of Catalonia.

There are fears of unrest if Madrid seeks to impose direct rule of any kind, and Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has said such a move could push regional lawmakers to declare unilateral independence.

"The main goal of these measures is a return to legality because there can not be a part of a country where law is not applied, where law doesn't exist", he said on Friday in Brussels at the end of an EU summit in which European leaders including Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Emmanuel Macron had offered him their support. Officials said that in addition to police violence, Spanish law enforcement raided polling stations, resulting in the loss of 770,000 ballots.

Reports suggest Mr Rajoy is also preparing to potentially take control of its police force, the Mossos d'Esquadra.

Although the ruling Popular Party has enough majority to get the specific measures passed by the country's Senate, Rajoy has rallied the support of the opposition to give his government's actions more weight.

Saturday's dramatic developments come a day after Madrid won powerful backing from the king and the EU.

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Meanwhile, King Felipe has said Catalonia "is and will remain an essential part of 21st century Spain".

Spain announced Saturday that it will move to dismiss Catalonia's separatist government and call fresh elections in the semi-autonomous region in a bid to stop its leaders from declaring independence.

It's never been used since the 1978 Constitution was adopted, but Rajoy's conservative government says establishing direct control over Catalonia was a move of last resort.

He added pointedly: "All too often in the past the prospect of redrawing borders has been presented as a heavenly panacea that has resulted in a hellish mess".

On October 1, over 90 percent of more than 2 million Catalans who participated in the region's referendum on independence expressed in favor of the region's secession from Spain.

Accounting for about a fifth of Spain's economic output, Catalonia is roughly evenly split over whether to break away from Spain, according to polls.

Almost 1,200 companies that have shifted their registered domiciles to other parts of Spain since the referendum, hoping to minimise instability.

Other reports by GizPress

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