Catalonia Declares Independence

Catalonia is fiercely protective of its language and culture and has long struggled for autonomy -- which was restored after the repressive 1939-1975 rule of dictator Francisco Franco

The Catalan Parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion to declare independence from Spain.

Deputies backed the motion, which reads “We shall constitute the Catalan Republic as an independent, and sovereign, democratic and social state of law”, by 70 votes to 10, in response to the Madrid government moving to throw regional leaders out of office and impose direct rule.

The European Union, which previously endorsed the Spanish authorities’ attempts to shut down the referendum which precipitated the current crisis through violence as “proportionate use of force”, have already backed the hardline stance of Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy.

“We have nothing to add to what we said [previously],” said Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva in response to the declaration.

“This is [European Commission President Jean-Claude] Juncker’s worst nightmare,” commented Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage.

“The European Union backed Spanish brutality and turned the Catalans against the EU. This makes Brexit look like a Sunday afternoon picnic.”

Rajoy, now authorised to take drastic action by the Spanish senate, has tweeted ominously that “The rule of law will restore legality in Catalonia.”

“We’re facing a challenge of unprecedented dimensions,” Rajoy told senators ahead of their vote to empower the Spanish government to strip Catalonia of its autonomy under Article 155 of the constitution — the never-before-used ‘nuclear option’.

“What is being debated here is whether Spain, regarding an issue that affects its stability and its integrity, has the right to defend itself by making use of the constitution and the laws.”

Prosecutors have announced they will seek to charge Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and his government with rebellion — a crime punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

This story is developing…

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