The crisis in Spain is set to worsen now that Catalonia’s Parliament has voted in favor of declaring independence from Madrid. Parliament’s speaker has announced that 70 MPs voted in favor of declaring independence, with 10 votes against. Two blank ballots were also counted.
Immediately after the vote Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy took to Twitter, where he told Catalonians and other Spaniards to remain “tranquil.” He added that “the rule of law will restore legality” in the region, by which he means that he’ll depose Catalonia’s leadership and replace them with politicians who will do as Madrid says:
Pido tranquilidad a todos los españoles. El Estado de Derecho restaurará la legalidad en Cataluña. MR
— Mariano Rajoy Brey (@marianorajoy) October 27, 2017
Although pro-independence demonstrators celebrate the results in Barcelona, Spain and Catalonia itself are now in for some serious political warfare. Madrid isn’t going to take this vote lying down. In fact, Rajoy has made clear on numerous occasions that he’s more than willing to use the iron fist of the central government to squash Catalonia’s aspirations.
Nobody knows how far Rajoy is willing to go exactly, but he has already said that he wants to depose Catalan president Puigdemont. In order to do so, Rajoy may use article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which enables the central government to take control of a rebellious autonomous region. This means that all of Catalonia’s institutions will become illegal, that its government will be outlawed, and that its leader could be arrested and tried on charges of sedition.
It goes without saying that by doing so, Rajoy may very well set off a chain of events resulting in large-scale violence in Catalonia.