Catalan Parliament Votes To Declare Independence From Spain

The upper house of the Spanish parliament gave the OK to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to invoke the never-before-used Article 155 of the Constitution, which he promptly utilized to oust Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and his cabinet, sack a regional police chief, and declare new regional elections.

During a secret vote in Barcelona, 70 Catalan lawmakers voted in favour of independence from Spain, 10 voted against the proposal, while two cast blank ballots.

Lawmakers from both parliamentary groups have a slim majority that would in theory allow them to pass the motion during a vote later Friday, if the parliament's advisory board allows it.

Catalonia represents a fifth of Spain's gross domestic product and polls show its people roughly evenly divided over independence.

The motion that passed calls for beginning an independence process that includes drafting Catalonia's new top laws and opening negotiations "on equal footing" with Spanish authorities to establish cooperation.

Britain "does not and will not" recognise Catalonia's declaration of independence, Downing Street has announced.

According to the news agency, as soon as the Spanish Senate approves measures proposed by the government to resolve the situation in Catalonia, the government will begin to implement them.

The evets of the next few days could cause tensions, already at a near breaking point, to spiral out of control, as Madrid seeks to impose its will on the region - possibly by firing the Barcelona government and placing regional police forces under its direct control.

The proposal that was approved had been submitted by the ruling Catalan Together for Yes coalition and their allies in the far-left CUP party.

The independence move was opposed by all opposition lawmakers in the prosperous region.

Those measures are "not against Catalonia but aiming to stop Catalonia being abused", he said.

Catalonia's parliament met to discuss the issue late Thursday, where opposition lawmakers pleaded with Puigdemont to find a solution to the standoff closely watched by a European Union wary of nationalist and secessionist sentiment, particularly after Britain's dramatic decision to leave the bloc.

Urging calm, Mr Rajoy said: "Spain is a serious country, it is a great nation and we are not prepared in any way to allow some people to liquidate our constitution".

"First, the Article 155 which will take away our rights and impact all the country. The main government buildings and pro-independence media outlets may be seized".

Ms Hyslop said: "We understand and respect the position of the Catalan Government". "Today is the last chance", he said, noting that Puigdemont had offered to negotiate with Spain's central government, "but Madrid is starting with total repression and there is no longer any (other) option".

There was a possibility that Puigdemont could have called early elections instead of declaring independence, which might have softened Spain's response.


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