Spanish government seizes control of Catalonia in bid to derail independence
Spain’s government will take control of Catalonia and hold fresh elections in the region in a bid to derail its independence movement.
Prime Minister Mariano Rojay said he will utilise a previously unused power allowing ministers to seize control from regional politicians.
Speaking after an emergency cabinet meeting, Mr Rajoy said he had no choice but to intervene to ‘restore normalcy’ in Spain.
He said: ‘There is no country in the world ready to allow this kind of situation within its borders.
‘It is my wish to call elections as soon as normality is restored.’
Mr Rajoy will do so by invoking Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which gives central government the power to step in if a region does not comply with law.
It has never been applied since the constitution was adopted in 1978, but the government said they had to do so as a last resort.
The move is expected to spark anger and protests in Catalonia, where mass demonstrations have been held since voters overwhelmingly backed independence in the illegal referendum.
Pablo Echenique, of the far-left Podemos party, vowed to work to oust Mr Rajoy, adding: ‘We are in shock about the suspension of democracy in Catalonia.’
Catalonia has taken steps towards declaring independence, but have been blocked by Spain’s central government.
Spanish authorities received heavy criticism for their handling of the referendum, which saw police using aggressive tactics to prevent people from voting.
There is now expected to be further unrest in the region, and activist groups had already called for a protest in Barcelona on Saturday over the jailing of two pro-independence leaders.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont plans to join the march.