The Catalan government ignored Madrid’s demand for “clarification” on Thursday, which was accompanied with an ultimatum.
If Barcelona failed to make clear that Catalonia has not proclaimed independence, Madrid would suspend Catalan autonomy and proceed with direct rule, in line with article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.
Barcelona ignored the ultimatum and issued its own on Thursday. President Puigdemont threatens to proclaim independence if Spain does proceed with direct rule. In a letter to the Spanish government, the Catalan President said that the region’s parliament will “proceed, if deemed appropriate, to vote on the formal declaration of independence.”
In legitimizing his ultimatum, Puigdemont made reference to the referendum’s results in which 90% of the voters backed independence. Once again, the Catalan President did not comment on the legality of the poll or the fact that only 43% of the 5,5 eligible voters went to the polls. The Catalan government insists it has a mandate for a declaration of independence that it is choosing to “suspend.” The same principle was reiterated in Brussels on Wednesday by the foreign affairs council of Catalonia, Raul Romeva, AFP reports.
Barcelona refuses to assess the legality of October 1 referendum in terms defined by Spanish rule of law. However, the Catalan President is calling for dialogue.
The Spanish government is now making good on its threat and will proceed with suspending Catalan autonomy. The decision is backed by the ruling Popular Party (PP), the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and the liberal Ciudadanos. That means 254 out of 300 MPs will be voting to suspend Catalan autonomy.
The Spanish cabinet has called for a special meeting on Saturday, which will trigger Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, paving the way towards direct rule. The process must still be approved by the Spanish Congress, which could take days.
Article 155 has never been evoked since the Spanish Constitution came into force in 1978. However, the government’s spokesman said on Thursday that it is determined to restore “rule of law.”