Barcelona — Spain’s government yesterday immediately rejected a threat by Catalonia’s leader to explicitly declare independence unless talks are held, calling a special Cabinet session for the weekend to activate measures to take control of the region’s semi-autonomous powers.
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont’s warning came in a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy with minutes to spare before the expiration of a deadline set by the central government for him to backtrack on his calls for secession.
“If the central government persists in impeding dialogue and continuing its repression, Catalonia’s parliament will proceed … with a vote to formally declare independence,” Puigdemont’s letter said.
Spain’s government quickly responded with a statement saying it was calling a special Cabinet session for tomorrow in which it would trigger the process to activate Article 155 of Spain’s 1978 Constitution.
It allows for central authorities to take over the semi-autonomous powers of any of the country’s 17 regions, including Catalonia.
The Cabinet meeting will “approve the measures that will be sent to the Senate to protect the general interest of all Spaniards”, the statement said.
The constitutional law has never been used in the four decades since democracy was restored at the end of General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.
Spain’s government needs to outline what are the exact measures it wants to apply in Catalonia and submit them for a vote in Spain’s Senate.
The ruling Popular Party’s majority in the top chamber would be enough to approve the measure, but Rajoy has held discussions with opposition leaders to rally further support.
The government was meeting on Thursday morning with members of the leading opposition Socialist party to decide what measures to take under Article 155.
Puigdemont addressed the regional parliament on October 10, saying he had the mandate under a banned October 1 referendum to declare independence from Spain.
But he immediately suspended the implementation of the secession proclamation and called for talks with Spain and international mediators.
But Spain’s government responded by setting two deadlines for Puigdemont – a Monday one for him to say a simple “yes” or “no” to whether he indeed had declared independence or not, and a second one for Thursday morning for him to fall in line with Spain’s laws. — AFP