The Catalan parliament on Friday voted to declare independence from Spain, prompting celebrations in Madrid and a strong response from the central government in Madrid. Within an hour, the Spanish Senate authorised Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government to impose direct rule over Catalonia. The crisis began when Catalans voted to secede from Spain in a banned referendum that was met with police violence on October 1. As the political crisis unfolds, we answer some of the most important questions about the future of Catalonia. Rajoy has fired Catalonia's regional government, including its leader, Carles Puigdemont.
Catalonia's parliament declared independence from Spain on Friday in defiance of the central government, in Madrid. The Spanish government responded by approving direct rule in the breakaway region. The vote by the upper house on Article 155 allows Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to rule Catalonia directly. Prime Minister Theresa May's office said Britain "does not and will not" recognise the Catalan regional parliament's declaration of independence, which "is based on a vote that was declared illegal by the Spanish courts." But the Scottish government, led by the pro-independence Scottish National Party, criticized Spain for refusing dialogue and said imposition of direct rule by Madrid "cannot be the solution."
The Spanish government has stripped the head of Catalonia's regional police of his powers, hours after direct rule was imposed on the region. This is the first specific measure taken since the Catalan parliament voted to declare independence. PM Mariano Rajoy has also announced the dissolution of the regional parliament and the removal of the Catalan leader, and called for snap local elections. Demonstrations for and against independence went on into the night. More are expected on Saturday, with a rally "for the unity of Spain and the constitution" to be held in Madrid.
MADRID/BARCELONA, SPAIN – Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday gave the Catalan government eight days to drop an independence bid, failing which he would suspend Catalonia's political autonomy and rule the region directly. Rajoy would probably call a snap regional election after activating Article 155 of the constitution, which would allow him to sack the Catalan regional government. Puigdemont had been widely expected to unilaterally declare Catalonia's independence on Tuesday after the Catalan government said 90 percent of Catalans had voted for a breakaway in an Oct. 1 referendum. Madrid responded angrily to Puigdemont's speech to Catalonia's parliament, saying his government could not act on the results of the referendum.