Catalonia declares independence, angering Madrid

  • 28/10/2017
Catalan independence supporters
Catalan independence supporter. Photo credit: Getty

Catalonia's regional parliament has declared independence from Spain, but Madrid quickly moved to authorise direct rule over the breakaway region.

The independence motion was passed in the 135-strong assembly with 70 votes in favour, 10 against and two blank ballots, the assembly's speaker said.

The motion 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.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and other regional government members took part in the vote, while the unionist opposition parties boycotted it.

Unionist from the opposition parties boycotted the vote, with members of the Socialist Party, the People's Party [PP] and Ciudadanos emptying the chamber before the vote.

The Spanish Senate immediately authorised direct rule of Catalonia. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is now expected to convene his cabinet to adopt the first measures to govern Catalonia.

This could include firing the Barcelona government and assuming direct supervision of Catalan police forces.

After the motion passed, Rajoy tweeted: "I ask for calm from all Spaniards. The rule of law will restore legality in Catalonia."

WikiLeaks founder Australian Julian Assange later tweeted: "An enormous defining Gandhian struggle will now commence in Catalonia to secure their declaration of independence against the full weight of the Spanish state, from the use of force, to financial interdiction, censorship, computer hacking, intelligence, propaganda and diplomacy."

The EU Commission declined to comment immediately, but President Jean-Claude Juncker has repeatedly said the debate is an internal Spanish issue.

President of the European Council Donald Tusk tweeted: "For EU nothing changes. Spain remains our only interlocutor. I hope the Spanish government favours force of argument, not argument of force."

Reuters / Newshub.