Catalonian separatist parties vote for independence from Spain

 
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Pivotal Day For Catalan Independence As Crisis Comes To A Head
Catalonian separatists demonstrated today in Barcelona (Source: Getty)

Catalonian separatist parties have voted to declare independence, with the central government voting in favour of imposing direct rule on the region in the biggest crisis in Spain in the last 40 years.

In Barcelona opposition parties left the chamber before the independence vote, saying it was illegal and undemocratic, but the separatist parties led by Catalonian president Carles Puigdemont voted to declare independence by 70 votes to 10, with two blank ballots in the secret vote.

The separatists, wearing yellow ribbons, then stood and sung the Catalonian anthem, Els Segadors.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tweeted a message in response to the independence vote, asking for "calm from all Spanish people". He said: "The rule of law will restore legality in Catalonia."

Shortly after that the Spanish Senate in Madrid voted in favour of invoking Article 155 of the constitution, which allows the central government to dismiss the leaders of the regional parliament and take over the machinery of government.

EU Council president Donald Tusk said "nothing changes", and that the EU will not recognise Catalonia as an independent nation. He also urged the Spanish government not to use the "argument of force" in quelling the secessionist movement.

In the Barcelona chamber the ruling Junts Pel Si (Together For Yes) joined the CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy) in voting in favour of the motion, which puts into action an independence declaration signed on 10 October but immediately suspended by Puigdemont.

According to a copy of the document published by an advisor to a Spanish MEP, the resolution says: "We constitute the Catalan Republic, as an independent and sovereign states of the law, democratic and social."

Read more: Short of civil war markets have the measure of the Catalonian crisis

The crisis has flared in the last month after Spanish police tried to stop a referendum on independence for Catalonia by force, leading to widespread condemnation and galvanising the separatist cause. The resolution filed today calls the Spanish government response an "attack on democracy unprecedented in the last 40 years".

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy earlier addressed the Senate, saying "exceptional measures" were necessary, according to Reuters.

He said: "In my opinion there is no alternative. The only thing that can be done and should be done is to accept and comply with the law."

Rajoy has not countenanced any possibility of independence for the region. Spain's constitution does not allow any form of division of the country, meaning the independence referendum has already been ruled illegal by the nation's top court.

The crisis has flared in the last month after Spanish police tried to stop a referendum on independence for Catalonia by force, leading to widespread condemnation and galvanising the separatist cause. The resolution voted through today calls the Spanish government response an "attack on democracy unprecedented in the last 40 years".

Read more: Spain to dismiss Catalonian leaders and Madrid to take over ministries

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