Catalan’s regional parliament on Friday passed a motion declaring independence from Spain, even as opposition lawmakers left the chamber in protest before the vote. Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy appealed for peace in a tweet posted moments after the Catalan regional parliament proclaimed independence from the Spanish government, which is likely be declared illegal. “I ask for calm from all Spaniards. The rule of law will restore legality in Catalonia,” Rajoy tweeted.
Spain has opposed their independence bid and the national government in Madrid is preparing to take control of the northeastern region. The motion passed by the regional parliament essentially calls for starting an independence process that includes drafting Catalonia’s new top laws and opening negotiations “on equal footing” with Spanish authorities to establish cooperation.
As per Reuters, independence motion was passed in the 135-strong assembly with 70 votes in favour, 10 against and 2 blank ballots, the assembly’s speaker said. Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont left the chamber to shouts of “President!”.
In a statement to Reuters, lawmaker Marta Rovira, who belongs to the Junts pel Si pro-independence alliance, said: “It is not going to be easy, it is not going to be free, it is not going to change in a day. But there is no alternative to a process towards the Catalan Republic.”
In the meantime in Madrid, the Senate authorised the government to rule Catalonia directly from Madrid. In an address to the Senate, Rajoy said: “Exceptional measures should only be adopted when no other remedy is possible. In my opinion, there is no alternative. The only thing that can be done and should be done is to accept and comply with the law,” adding that the Catalan leadership was making a mockery of democracy.
A long walk to freedom, impediments ahead
Uncertainty looms over the fledgling independence declaration as major geopolitical powers like US, Germany and NATO have refused to recognise Catalonian independence.
Catalonia is one of Spain’s most prosperous regions but it has been witness to a series of historic grievances, which heightened during the 1939-1975 Franco dictatorship, when its culture and politics were suppressed by Francisco Franco’s rule.
“The United States enjoys a great friendship and an enduring partnership with our NATO ally Spain,” Stat Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. Catalonia is an integral part of Spain, and the U supports the Spanish government’s constitutional measures to keep Spain strong and united,” Nauert was quoted as saying by AFP.
Spain to file rebellion charges against Catalan leader
Spain’s public prosecutor’s office is reported to have filed rebellion charges next week against Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, a spokesman was quoted as saying by AFP after Catalonia’s regional parliament voted to declare independence on Friday. A court will eventually decide whether to accept the charges against the secessionist leader Puigdemont. Under Spanish law, the crime of ‘rebellion’ is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.