- Thousands of pro-independence Catalans took to the streets of Barcelona today
- Spain’s PM Mariano Rajoy said he would curb powers of the Catalan parliament
- Rajoy said government had taken this unprecedented decision to restore the law
- Also proposed central government ministers assume powers of Catalan officials
- Catalan president faces rebellion charge which could see him jailed for 30 years
Protesters have poured onto the streets of Barcelona today as Spain’s Prime Minister moved to impose direct rule over Catalonia and threatened to arrest the region’s president if he declares independence.
Mariano Rajoy wants to sack the Catalan government and call an election within six months in a bid to thwart a drive by the autonomous region to break away.
Rajoy said his government had taken the unprecedented decision to restore the law, ensure regional institutions were neutral and guarantee public services.
Thousands of protesters wave Catalan separatist flags during a demonstration today
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont (third from left) takes part in a march with deputy president Oriol Junqueras (second left) and former Catalan President Artur Mas during a protest in Barcelona this afternoon
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy this afternoon said he would curb the powers of the parliament of Catalonia, sack its government and call an election within six months
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont arrives at a demonstration organised by Catalan pro-independence movements
Protesters hold pro-independence Catalan Esteladas flags as they gather for a demonstration on earlier today in Barcelona
The Spanish government moved decisively Saturday to use a previously untapped constitutional power so it can take control of Catalonia and derail the independence movement
Thousands of protesters took to the streets this afternoon to demonstrate against the decision to suspend Catalan’s autonomy
At the national level, Pablo Echenique, a secretary in the far-left Podemos party, vowed to work to oust Mr Rajoy and his conservative Popular Party
Pro-business Ciudadanos (Citizens) party president Albert Rivera says he supports the announced measures to heal divisions created by the Catalan independence movement and to provide the security companies need to remain in Catalonia
The measures must now be approved by Spain’s upper house, the Senate, where a vote is scheduled for October 27.
Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party holds a majority in the Senate, and the measures also enjoy the support of the main opposition Socialists and centrist Ciudadanos party.
If the Senate greenlights the proposals, the Catalan parliament will continue to operate as normal until it is dissolved, but it will be unable to elect a new government chief to replace Puigdemont or vote on any laws that go against Spain’s constitution and its statute as a semi-autonomous region.
Thousands of pro-independence Catalans took to the streets of Barcelona this afternoon to demonstrate against Rajoy’s decision and the imprisonment of civil society leaders Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart, both leading figures in the October 1 referendum.
Catalonia leader Carles Puigdemont joined the afternoon protest before delivering a speech in response to the decision to take over the regional cabinet’s functions at 9pm tonight.
Catalonia’s vice president Oriol Junqueras promised to meet supporters at the protest to take a stand ‘against totalitarianism.’
He tweeted: ‘Today more than ever, let’s defend democracy and civil and political rights.’
Protesters wave Catalan independence flags as they demonstrate against the Spanish federal government’s move to suspend Catalonian autonomy
A protester holds sign reading ‘Freedom for the two Jordis’ during a march to protest against the National Court’s decision to imprison civil society leaders, Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart
A protester holds up an anti-European Union placard during a demonstration
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont (centre) takes part at a march with deputy president Oriol Junqueras
The PM confirmed Spain was initiating Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution in order to take control of Catalonia, illustrating its determination to derail the independence movement led by separatist politicians in the prosperous industrial region.
Mariano Rajoy also blamed separatists for pushing the government to take the unprecedented measures in Catalonia.
Meanwhile, Spanish authorities are preparing to arrest Catalonia’s president and charge him with rebellion if he declares independence.
The State Attorney General José Manuel Maza confirmed on Saturday that ‘a complaint is being prepared for rebellion’ against the President of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, and other independence leaders.
The charge of rebellion could see Puigdemont face up to 30 years in prison if found guilty, according to El Pais.
During the earlier press conference, Rajoy said: ‘It wasn’t our wish, nor our intention. It never was and I think the Spanish public opinion as a whole knows this.
‘Article 155 is a constitutional article, but it’s only invoked in exceptional circumstances.
The State Attorney General José Manuel Maza confirmed on Saturday that ‘a complaint is being prepared for rebellion’ against the President of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, and other independence leaders
Protesters gather in the city center to demonstrate against the Spanish federal government’s move to suspend Catalonian autonomy
The Spanish government announced measures today it will implement in triggering Article 155
In the streets of Barcelona, banging pots and pans and honking cars greeted Mr Rajoy’s announcement
A protester holds sign reading ‘Freedom. We want you home’ during the march today
Protesters carrying signs to demand the release of imprisoned Catalan leaders Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart walk past a Zara clothing
A protester carrying an ”estelada” or Catalonia independence flag shouts during a march to protest against the National Court’s decision to imprison civil society leaders
Rajoy also proposed having central government ministers assume the powers of Catalan regional officials
Mariano Rajoy also blamed separatists for pushing government to take unprecedented measures in Catalonia
‘We are triggering Article 155 because no government of any democratic country, I insist none, can accept that the law is ignored, that the law is violated, that the law is changed and all of this trying to impose their criteria on the rest.’
He added: ‘This is the reason why we have invoked a constitutional article, similar to others in many European Constitutions, that was voted for by all the Spanish people.’
In the streets of Barcelona, banging pots and pans and honking cars greeted Mr Rajoy’s announcement.
At the national level, Pablo Echenique, a secretary in the far-left Podemos party, vowed to work to oust Mr Rajoy and his conservative Popular Party.
Pro-business Ciudadanos (Citizens) party president Albert Rivera says he supports the announced measures to heal divisions created by the Catalan independence movement and to provide the security companies need to remain in Catalonia.
Barcelona politician Alfred Bosch tweeted: ‘The end of Spanich Democracy. Madrid govt. activates coup against Catalonia’
Spanish activist Àlex Hinojo said: ‘A coup d’Etat: Rajoy is canceling Democracy right now in Catalonia. Fascism is alive and kicking. Shame on you Mariono Rajoy’
Wikileaks’ Julian Assange said: ‘Spain’s PM has responded to Catalonia’s calls for dialog with a plan (announced today, minimizing press coverage) to remove its president and cabinet and to take over its institutions by force, effectively granting control of Catalonia to a party with just 8% of the vote’
Catalonia’s vice president Oriol Junqueras promised to meet supporters at a protest scheduled for Saturday afternoon in Barcelona to take a stand ‘against totalitarianism’
Marta Rovira, the general secretary of the Junqueras’ separatist ERC party, said Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s actions are a ‘coup d’etat’ designed to crush Catalonia’s self-rule and aspirations of breaking away from Spain.
Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau has opposed a declaration of independence in Catalonia based on an the referendum that Spain’s Constitutional Court had suspended.
Colau nonetheless criticized the central government on Saturday and called its moves ‘a serious attack’ on Catalonia’s regional autonomy.
Earlier, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Cabinet met to outline the scope and timing of the measures the government plans to take under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.
The article allows central authorities to intervene when one of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions fails to comply with the law.
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.
The Spanish government moved to activate a previously untapped constitutional article Saturday so it can take control of Catalonia. Pictured, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy heads a special cabinet meeting at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid today
The charge of rebellion could see Puigdemont face up to 30 years in prison if found guilty
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Cabinet was meeting to outline the scope and timing of the measures the government plans to take under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. Pictured right, State Attorney General José Manuel Maza
The goal is ‘the return to legality and the recovery of institutional normalcy,’ the prime minister said Friday.
Rajoy could force the removal of Catalan officials and call early regional elections for as soon as January. Such actions are expected to spark angry opposition from supporters of independence and moderate Catalans who will see them as an attack on their autonomy.
The slow-burning constitutional crisis over secession escalated this month when regional government officials claimed a disputed independence referendum held Oct. 1 gave them a legal basis for separating from Spain.
The country’s Constitutional Court has so far ruled against all moves toward secession, including the controversial referendum.
Spanish authorities are preparing to arrest Catalonia’s president Carles Puigdemont and charge him with rebellion if he declares independence
People hold candles and a Catalan pro-independence ‘Estelada’ flag during a demonstration in Barcelona against the arrest of two Catalan separatist leaders on Tuesday
Rajoy could force the removal of Catalan officials and call early regional elections for as soon as January. Pictured, protesters clashing with police earlier this month
The vote itself was marred by sporadic violence as police took action to shut down some polling locations. The central government says the results have no legitimacy.
Opposition parties have agreed to support the prime minister in revoking Catalonia’s autonomy as a way to thwart the independence drive.
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.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has threatened to call a vote in the regional parliament for an explicit declaration of independence from Spain.