Madrid potentially days away from fully taking control of separatist region.
Unsatisfied with the response from the Catalan government about whether it declared independence or not, the Spanish government announced Thursday it will continue to take steps towards suspending Catalonia’s autonomy.
The government will hold an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers on Saturday to pass the measures contained in article 155 of Spain’s constitution, which will bring Madrid closer to taking control of the Catalan government and institutions.
The response from Madrid comes after Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont submitted a letter to Madrid on Thursday, saying: “If the Spanish government continues to impede dialogue and continue repression, the Catalan parliament, could proceed… to vote on a formal declaration of independence that it did not vote on Oct. 10.”
Although Puigdemont said the Catalan government did not vote on independence and that the matter was suspended, the lack of a “clear and precise” response regarding whether or not independence was declared has forced Spain to continue with its plan to suspend the region’s autonomy, said government spokesperson Inigo Mendez de Vigo in a news conference on Thursday.
“The government will use all measures in its reach to restore legality and stop the economic deterioration,” he added.
If the process continues, this will be the first time in Spanish democratic history that article 155 has been used to take control of a Spanish region.
The law is vague and how it is imposed could be widely variable. It will also have to be passed in Spain’s senate but the majority of parties have announced their support for the government’s moves to suspend home rule.
The suspension could come into effect within a week.
However, the Catalan government says imposing article 155 will only inflame the conflict. “It indicates that the government isn’t conscious of the problem and it doesn’t want to speak,” wrote Puigdemont in his letter, threatening to hold a vote on independence.
Spain has 17 “autonomous communities”, enshrined in the 1978 constitution. The level of self-government in each one varies, but other restive nationalities -- such as the Basque Country in the north -- have been striving for more autonomy or outright independence for decades.