Spanish PM secures key opposition support for plans to sack Catalonia gov't

By Sara Shayanian  |  Oct. 20, 2017 at 10:24 AM
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Oct. 20 (UPI) -- The Spanish government has already begun planning to take political control from Catalonia, as the leader of the densely populated region continues to go forward without making his full intentions clear.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will hold an emergency cabinet meeting Saturday to discuss triggering Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution -- the "nuclear option" -- which allows Madrid to suspend Catalonia's autonomy and set new elections.

Rajoy said the decision for direct rule will have the backing of Spain's primary opposition party, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, as well as its centrist party, the Ciudadanos. Securing support from the main opposition party is a critical component of taking power from Catalonia.

If Madrid goes ahead with plans to invoke Article 155, it would be the first time in four decades since its constitution took effect in 1978 that Spain will wrest control from one of its regional governments.

Spain has repeatedly demanded clarification this week from Catalan President Carles Puigdemont about whether he intends to pursue full independence from Spain, in accordance with an Oct. 1 referendum vote.

Friday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said she backed Rajoy's position in the continuing crisis.

"We believe that people should be abiding by the rule of law and uphold the Spanish constitution," she said.

PSOE member Carmen Calvo on Friday announced an agreement to hold regional elections -- while appealing to Puigdemont to endorse the elections.

Under Article 155, Catalan's government would be effectively dissolved after new elections.

Puigdemont was given two deadlines this week -- Monday and Thursday -- to clarify whether he seeks independence. Puigdemont instead called for dialogue, and threatened to declare full independence if Madrid didn't comply.

After the Thursday deadline passed, Madrid announced it would suspend Catalonia's self-rule and impose direct rule.

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