The Catalan regional parliament has declared their independence from Spain today. As expected, the Spanish government has rejected this claim. The Spanish Parliament has authorized direct rule over the area.
On Friday, a motion declaring independence was approved with 70 votes supporting, ten votes against, and two abstentions in the 135-seat chamber.
The measure demands the transfer of legal powers from Spain to an independent Catalonia. Catalonia is to become its sovereign nation.
Catalonia is located in the northeast region of Spain. It is one of the richest and most industrialized areas of Spain. The area has a heavy emphasis on manufacturing. It is of great economic significance to Spain. The region includes one of Spain’s largest cities, Barcelona and has a population of around 7.5 million people. Furthermore, Catalonia has its own culture and language and is mostly independent.
Tensions have reached a boiling level in the Catalan region
The Catalan government proclaimed that in a referendum earlier this month, 90% of voters supported independence. Spain challenged the legitimacy of the referendum citing that only 43% of potential voters participated. As a result, Spain’s Constitutional Court declared the vote illegal.
Large crowds have gathered to celebrate the declaration of independence. Throughout the region, Spanish flags have been removed from government buildings. People have taken notice from all around the world of the region’s historic day. While in a celebratory mood, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has urged supporters to “maintain the momentum” in peaceful fashion BBC online reported.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had advised to senators that direct rule was a necessity to revert “law, democracy and stability” to Catalonia. It was reported that Rajoy called for new elections and also fired the Catalan police chief. “In this moment, we need to be serene and careful, but we also need to have confidence that the state has the tools, backed by the law and reason, [to] peacefully and reasonably go back to legality and take away threats to democracy,” he said.
Spain’s Prime Minister Rejects the Independence Bid
CNN online reported that Rajoy has vowed to quell the secessionists. Before he imposed direct rule, he convened a Cabinet meeting to agree on the measures he would take. Spain is a serious country, a great nation and we will not allow some people to blow up our Constitution,” Rajoy told journalists in Madrid. Insisting Spanish citizens to remain calm, he announced that “Puigdemont and his ministers would be dismissed, and new elections in Catalonia would be held on December 21,” CNN said.
Fox News reported that Catalonia’s motion called for beginning an independent process that would include drafting Catalonia’s new laws as well as open negotiations “on equal footing” with Spanish authorities.
Reactions from around the world have been mixed
In the United States, Reuters reported, that the U.S. State Department said on Friday that Catalonia is an integral part of Spain and Washington backs Madrid’s efforts to keep the country united.
“Catalonia is an integral part of Spain, and the United States supports the Spanish government’s constitutional measures to keep Spain strong and united,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Theresa May rejected the recognition of Catalan independence. May said in a released statement reported the British publication Independent, “The UK does not and will not recognise the Unilateral Declaration of Independence made by the Catalan regional parliament. It is based on a vote that was declared illegal by the Spanish courts.”
Social media is abuzz with the news of independence with people voicing support and displeasure.
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