Spain’s ruling conservatives and main opposition Socialists have agreed to force fresh elections in Catalonia in January in response to the Catalan leadership’s threat to secede from Spain, according to Socialist politician Carmen Calvo.
The Spanish government is able to call regional elections by invoking Article 155, a provision in the Constitution that allows the government to use “all measures necessary to compel” a region to abide by the law.
Speaking to Spanish broadcaster RTVE on Friday, Calvo, a former culture minister, said Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez “was absolutely clear that [the application of article 155 means] Catalonia must hold elections.” Asked if there was a pact between the Socialists and the government, Calvo said “Yes, yes, yes.”
On Thursday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that, pending the Senate’s approval, he will invoke article 155 to impose direct rule over Catalonia after accusing regional President Carles Puigdemont of failing to comply with an ultimatum to clarify whether he had declared independence.
Calvo defended her party’s support for invoking special powers, seen by many as Madrid’s “nuclear option.” She said the move “has nothing to do with the suspension of [Catalonia’s] autonomy or as a punitive reaction, but with the restoration of statutory laws and the tranquility and security to go to the polls.”
The Catalan regional secretary for external affairs Raül Romeva ruled out fresh elections Wednesday, saying they were “off the table.”