World reacts as Catalonia calls for independence

Al Jazeera 

Leaders from Europe and elsewhere have largely rallied behind Spain's central government after the Catalan parliament voted in favour of splitting from Madrid and establishing an independent republic. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday announced the dissolution of the Catalan parliament and called for snap regional elections in a swift response to the Catalan MPs' declaration for independence. The standoff began when Catalans voted to secede from Spain in an October 1 referendum that had been declared illegal by Spanish authorities. The events in Barcelona and Madrid have gripped Spain, marking a major development in the country's worst political crisis in decades. The political uncertainty is also closely watched by the international community, and especially the European Union, as a potential Catalan independence would represent the greatest threat to the bloc's unity since Britain's decision to leave in July 2016.