In his final bid to discard Catalonia’s independence move, Spain’s Prime Minister (PM) Mariano Rajoy said on Saturday that the government would invoke unprecedented constitutional authority to “restore order” in Catalonia, suspend the regional government and call for fresh elections to thwart its leaders attempt to declare independence.
After an emergency cabinet meeting, PM Rajoy said the government will invoke Article 155 of the 39-year-old Spanish constitution to revoke Catalonia’s autonomous rule and rule the region directly from Madrid.
Rajoy said his government had no choice after Catalonia’s separatist government acted in a manner that was “unilateral, contrary to the law and seeking confrontation” by holding a banned independence referendum three weeks ago.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has threatened to call a vote in the regional parliament for an explicit declaration of independence from Spain.
Catalonia, whose regional capital is Barcelona, is a prosperous industrialized region on the Mediterranean Sea bordering France.
Article 155, which has never been invoked in the constitution’s 39-year history, allows central authorities to intervene when one of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions fails to comply with the law.
King Philip VI earlier expressed his support for the move to rein in Catalonia’s autonomous powers.
“Spain has to face an unacceptable attempt to secede a part of its national territory and resolve it through their legitimate democratic institutions while respecting our Constitution,” the king said, eldiario digital reports.
The moves come only weeks after the regional government mounted a controversial referendum on Catalonian independence that featured police disrupting some polling stations and overturning ballot boxes.
Although the ruling Popular Party has enough majority to get the specific measures passed by the country’s Senate, Rajoy has rallied the support of the opposition to give his government’s actions more weight.