Catalonia Crisis: Rajoy Urges Removal of Region's Leaders, New Elections
Albanian Daily News
Published October 21, 2017
Rajoy (L) called Saturday for the removal of Catalan President Carles Puigdemont (R).Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Saturday that his government was seeking to remove the leaders of Catalonia's regional government from power and call new elections as soon as possible.
The unprecedented measures -- intended to end Catalan leaders' independence bid -- would be taken under Article 155 of the Spanish constitution and must be sent to the Spanish Senate for approval. This would happen within the next week, Rajoy said.
The Madrid government announced Thursday that it would invoke Article 155, a provision that allows it to suspend the autonomy of the Catalan regional administration.
The move follows weeks of division triggered by a banned independence referendum on October 1.
On Thursday, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont threatened that the wealthy northeastern region could formally declare independence if the Spanish government did not engage in dialogue.
Under the measures proposed by Rajoy on Saturday, Puigdemont, his vice-president and ministers would be suspended and replaced by the administration in Madrid where necessary.
"The government had to enforce Article 155. It wasn't our desire, nor our intention. It never was," Rajoy said. "But in this situation, no government of any democratic country can accept that the law is ignored."
In undertaking these steps, the government has four goals, Rajoy said. These are: to return to legality; to restore normality and coexistence in Catalonia; to continue the region's economic recovery; and to hold elections in conditions of normality.
"The autonomy is not suspended, nor the government," he said. "People are removed who put the government outside the law, outside the constitution and outside statutes."
Rajoy said new elections should be called for Catalonia within six months but that he wanted it to happen as soon as possible.
"The only way for Article 155 to be stopped is if the Senate votes it down," he said.
Rajoy's Popular Party has a majority in the Senate. Two Spanish opposition parties, PSOE and Ciudadanos, have also said they will back the Article 155 measures, Rajoy said.
Senate Vice-President Pedro Sanz said the Senate would hold a session Friday morning to vote on Article 155.