This is it.
The news that Spain has been trying to avoid for over a century. Catalan (or Catalonia) is the wealthiest region of Spain, a beautiful land in the Northeast corner of the Iberian peninsula.
The people of Catalan are overtaxed and their cultural heritage (while Spanish, the culture is quite distinct from Castillian Spanish, which centers around Madrid) has been largely ignored outside of Catalan.
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They are a people who are tired of being marginalized and ignored.
Now, they have declared themselves an independent nation and they are hoping that the rest of Europe will defend them from the coming conflict with the Spanish government.
On Thursday, the President of Catalan decided against declaring Independence or calling for a referendum on the issue and instead argued that the legislature should decide the fate of the region. On Friday morning the Catalan state legislature voted 70 – 10 with 2 abstentions and the opposition party boycotting the vote (the opposition represents 53 seats in Parliament), to declare Independence from Spain.
In a recent referendum on independence, about 43% of Catalan’s voting populace took part and of that number some 90% supported independence. However, the Spanish Supreme Court ruled the referendum unconstitutional, and they’ll likely say the same thing about Friday’s legislatorial vote. To make matters more difficult for Catalan, they are not likely to find much support from the International community.
Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, tweeted immediately after the vote calling for calm. He said the rule of law would be restored in Catalonia.
Spain’s senate voted on Friday, shortly after the Catalan independence vote, to trigger Article 155 of the constitution and allow the imposition of direct rule.
The vote will give Madrid the authority to govern Catalonia is the first direct intervention by central authorities in the affairs of one of the country’s 17 autonomous areas.
Mr Rajoy will have the power to sack Mr Puigdemont and his cabinet among other measures. Mr Rajoy is understood to be planning immediately to enact the Article 155 provisions during an urgent meeting on Friday afternoon.
Hopefully, the situation can be resolved without violence, but if the situation that played out on the day of the referendum a few weeks ago is an indicator, things could get ugly.