The Spanish government has announced it will suspend Catalan home rule in order to “restore legality” in the region.
Mariano Rajoy and his cabinet were unsatisfied with Catalan president Carles Puigdemont’s response to their ultimatum. They had given him until Thursday to clarify that Catalonia had not declared its independence from Spain.
Puigdemont replied that the effect of the October 1 referendum — in which 43 percent of Catalans turned out and 90 percent voted for independence — is “suspended”, but he would not state unequivocally that he still considers the region part of Spain.
Indeed, he threatened to break away if Spain were to remove its autonomy:
If the government of Spain persists in preventing dialogue and continues its repression, the parliament of Catalonia may vote on a formal declaration of independence that it did not vote on on October 10.
Spanish ministers replied they would meet on Saturday to discuss invoking Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which gives them the right to adopt “measures necessary to oblige” a region that is not fulfilling its legal obligations.
The step, which no Spanish government has taken before, needs approval from the Senate before it can take effect.
Given that Rajoy’s conservative People’s Party has an absolute majority in the upper chamber, implementation could be as early as next week.