Wide Angle

Catalan Independence : Spain moves to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy

The Spanish government is determined to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy, to restore the «constitutional order», according to Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s Prime Minister. Meanwhile, the two major political parties in the country, Cuidadanos and PSOE, support article 155 of the constitution that allows Madrid to take over running of the region. Strangely, the two parties that have backed in the past the Polisario Front refuse to show Catalans the same kind of support.

Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime Minister and Carles Puigdemont, president of the government of Catalonia./Ph. DR
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Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime Minister and Carles Puigdemont, president of the government of Catalonia are not in good terms these days. In a letter sent by Puigdemont on Thursday morning to Rajoy, he indicated that the independence declaration of Catalonia is suspended.

The Catalan president warned the Spanish official in his letter stating that «if the government continues to impede dialogue and continues with the repression, the Catalan parliament could proceed, if it is considered opportune, to vote on a formal declaration of independence». A decision that Catalan MPs did not adopt during the latest special session held on October the 10th.

Puigdemont’s letter was sent to the palace of La Moncloa around 9 am (GMT) this Thursday. In a statement, delivered by the government’s spokesperson, Rajoy responded announcing that «the Spanish government will continue with the procedures outlined in Article 155 of the Constitution to restore legality in Catalonia’s self-government».

People’s Party to suspend the Catalan autonomy

As a result, the Rajoy Cabinet will hold, on Saturday, 21st of October, an extraordinary meeting to draw up a list of specific measures under the Article 155 of the Constitution. According to the same article «if a self-governing community does not fulfill the obligations imposed upon it by the constitution or other laws, or acts in a way that is seriously prejudicial to the general interest of Spain, the government … may…take all measures necessary to compel the community to meet said obligations, or to protect the above-mentioned general interest».

Meanwhile, Senates from the People’s Party (PP), a conservative and Christian democratic political party in Spain, enjoy a comfortable majority (149 senators) compared to the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) that has 62 MPs and the Podemos with only 20. The PP, a right-wing presided by the Spanish Prime Minister, supports the application of Article 155.

In addition to the famous article from the constitution, the Spanish government could also intervene by organizing general elections in Catalonia, as suggested by the Ciudadanos, a liberal political party in Spain which is self-described as postnationalist.

Parties that back the self-determination of Sahrawis support the «constitutional order» in Spain

With the exception of Podemos, big political parties in Spain such as the PSOE and Ciudadanos are against the Catalan independence. The same two political parties have backed in the past the self-determination of «the people of Western Sahara», as they said and wrote.

In April 2016, MPs from the Ciudadanos party called the Spanish government to recognize the Polisario as «a legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people». Similarly, King Felipe has always been a great supporter of the self-determination of the «people of Western Sahara». In h 2016 he delivered a speech at the United Nations General Assembly openly defending the Polisario.

For the record, Morocco officially defended the territorial unity of Spain.