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Crisis: Catalans Declare Independence – Then Spain Takes Over

October 30, 2017
Plain English Version

Demonstrators gathered in central Madrid on Saturday to protest Catalonia’s unilateral declaration of independence. Credit Susana Vera/Reuters

The Catalan people voted for independence from Spain. The Spanish government said “No.”

The Catalan Parliament voted to secede from Spain. The Spanish government said, “No.”

Now Spain has taken over the Catalan region. Madrid took over the Catalan government under Article 155 of the Spanish constitution.

Spain will be running the region beginning today. It will fire ministers who do not go along with the takeover. It replaced the chief of police. Spain’s Attorney General and Deputy Prime Minister are in charge.

The leader of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, said he is against violence. He also said Spain had removed a democratically elected government. He said, “Parliaments choose or remove presidents.”

There is strong feeling to keep Catalonia in Spain. The feeling is shown in big demonstrations in Madrid, the capital of Spain.

In Catalonia, the people are of two minds. One group wants independence from Spain. The other group wants to stay a part of Spain.

Spain said the October 1, 2017, vote for independence was an illegal election. The pro-Spain Catalans boycotted the vote.

Madrid called for a new election. It is to be on December 21, 2017. Madrid expects the vote will be in favor of Spain.

The leader of the Catalan opposition to independence spoke. He said “We will now claim the right to vote in freedom. We will show the world that this is a free and democratic country.”

An observer said, “It’s [Spanish Prime Minister] Mariano Rajoy’s attempt to regain the democratic initiative. But it is also a surprisingly risky bet. He is betting he can really beat the independence movement.”

In the coming days, feelings and events in Madrid and Barcelona will matter. Will Catalan ministers go to work and do their jobs? Is Catalan in charge or is Madrid in charge?

What will happen if people take to the streets? If Madrid pushes too hard, it may lose the December 21 vote. If Spain does not take charge, tension will grow. Madrid and Barcelona are the cities to watch.

This is a crisis of the first order. Democracy and the rule of law are both on trial in Spain.

Source: The New York Times October 28, 2017

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