Spanish Cabinet in meeting to approve direct rule over Catalonia
Oct 21, Madrid: The Spanish government today is holding a special cabinet meeting to approve measures to take direct control of the semi-autonomous region of Catalonia.
The meeting comes almost three weeks after the region held a controversial independence referendum, which was ruled illegal by the supreme court, despite the ruling Carles Puigdemont has claimed that the referendum result gave him a mandate to pursue independence.
Catalonia's regional government held a referendum on 1 October to ask residents of the region if they wanted to break away from Spain.Mr Puigdemont and other regional leaders then signed a declaration of independence, but immediately suspended it in order to allow for talks.
Article 155 of the Spanish constitution allows the national government to impose direct rule over Spain's semi-autonomous regions in the event of a crisis. It has never before been invoked in democratic Spain.
It says that if a region's government "acts in a way that seriously threatens the general interest of Spain", Madrid can "take necessary measures to oblige it forcibly to comply".
But the Spanish cabinet is now expected to recommend dissolving Catalonia's government and holding elections in January, as well as taking control of the region's 16,000-strong police force.After Saturday's cabinet meeting, the steps will be debated by a Senate committee before a final vote. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative Popular Party (PP) holds a majority in the Senate, meaning the proposals are likely to pass.
Opponents argue that Catalonia is stronger as a part of Spain, and that breaking away would lead to economic disaster for the country as a whole.
The Oslo Times International News Network