Immediately following the vote in the Catalonian parliament to declare independence, the Spanish government lowered the boom and activated Article 155 of the constitution, which allows Madrid to revoke the region’s autonomy.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fired the regional president (Carles Puigdemont) and the rest of his cabinet, dissolved the region’s parliament, and ordered fresh elections for December. In addition, the head of the regional police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, was cashiered. All Catalonia embassies around the world have been closed.
And this may be only the beginning. The top Spanish prosecutor’s office said it would prosecute those responsible for the independence referendum for rebellion.
“Spain’s top prosecutor will seek rebellion charges for those responsible for a vote in favor of declaring an independent Catalan republic, an official spokesman said,” according to the Independent.
“The spokesman said the prosecutor is looking to determine if the charges should be limited to the Catalan cabinet, including President Carles Puigdemont and Vice President Oriol Junqueras, or if they should also include members of the parliament’s governing board and lawmakers.”
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said charges could be brought as early as Monday.
Other options for Rajoy include taking over local media outlets as well as the police.
All sides are calling for calm, but there will be a massive pro-independence rally in Barcelona on Sunday.With the police under national government control, the chances for violent clashes are high.
The Catalans are alone. No major European country has endorsed their independence bid and none are expected to. Why should they when many of them have their own minority regions pining for more autonomy or independence?
Spain’s shaky economy is likely to take a hit from the chaos. Catalonia is one of the richest regions in Spain and with at least one Catalan union calling for a general strike on Monday, any significant interruptions could result in an economic downturn.
Rajoy’s leadership and resolve will be tested in the coming days. While he currently has the support of most of the opposition for his crackdown, how long will that last if Catalonia erupts with a spasm of violence?