Spanish government moves to suspend Catalonia's autonomy

The Spanish government is planning to put in motion plans to revoke Catalonia’s autonomy, after the Regional President, Carles Puigdemont refused to back down on his plans to secede.

Puigdemont had until 10am this morning to clarify his position on the matter, which he left until the last minute to say he hadn’t actually declared independence last week, but vowed to if Spain suspended its autonomy and refused to engage with them on the issue.

“If the central government persists in preventing dialogue and continuing repression, Catalonia’s parliament could proceed, if it considers it timely, to vote for a formal declaration of independence that it didn’t vote for on October 10,” he wrote in a letter to Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy. 

Rajoy responded by calling a special Cabinet meeting on Saturday, where his government will formally trigger Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which will effectively remove the regional government from Catalonia.

Article 155 has never been used in the country before, in all of the 40 years since democracy was restored, after the fall of General Franco.

In a letter published this morning, Rajoy says: “The government of Spain has verified at 10 o’clock this morning, the last deadline, the refusal of the President of the Generalitat de Catalunya to comply with the request sent to him on 11 October and in which he was asked to inform in a clear and precise way if any authority of Catalonia had proceeded to declare the independence of that Autonomous Community and was urged to restore the altered constitutional order.

“Consequently, the Government of Spain will continue with the procedures provided for in article 155 of the Constitution to restore legality in the self-government of Catalonia.

“Next Saturday the Council of Ministers, meeting in extraordinary form, will approve the measures that will raise the Senate in order to protect the general interest of the Spaniards, including the citizens of Catalonia, and restore the constitutional order in the Autonomous Community.

“The government thanks the support of the different political formations with which it is closing at the moment a majority and consensual response to the secessionist challenge. On the other hand, it denounces the attitude maintained by those in charge of the Generalitat to seek, deliberately and systematically, the institutional confrontation despite the serious damage that is being caused to the coexistence and the economic structure of Catalonia.

“The government will do everything possible to restore legality and constitutional order, restore peaceful coexistence between citizens and curb the economic deterioration that legal insecurity is causing in Catalonia.”

Talk in the country yesterday focused on an alleged offer put to Barcelona in which the Spanish government would not invoke Article 155 if Catalonia was to hold a fresh General Election – a clever move on Spain’s side which would have forced Puigdemont (who runs a minority government) to prove he had a mandate for his position, or risk losing it entirely.

Westmonster will be keeping a close eye on the situation…