Puigdemont Urges Parliament to Discuss Spain's Decision to Curb Catalan Autonomy

Posted October 22, 2017

The slow-burning constitutional crisis over secession escalated this month when regional government officials held a disputed independence referendum on October 1.

In a significant upping of the stakes in his bid to rein in the region's pro-independence rulers, Mr Rajoy has said that although the Catalan parliament will not be dissolved immediately, its functions will be limited to "avoid measures contrary to the Constitution".

Barcelona leads the Spanish LaLiga and hosts Malaga later tonight.

Following the vote, large crowds in Barcelona last weekend called for peaceful negotiations to determine the next step, but Rajoy has rejected dialogue on the grounds that the Spanish government sees Catalonia's referendum as illegal.

He tweeted: "Today more than ever, let's defend democracy and civil and political rights".

Meanwhile, King Felipe has said Catalonia "is and will remain an essential part of 21st century Spain". The central government says the results have no legitimacy.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont urged the parliament to appoint a plenary meeting to discuss Madrid's decision to limit Catalonia's autonomy.

Even moderate Catalans were aghast at the move, and the announcement was met with banging pots and honking cars in the streets of Barcelona.

At the national level, Pablo Echenique, a secretary in the far-left Podemos party, vowed to work to oust Rajoy and his conservative Popular Party.

Observers and supporters of Catalonia's independence movement denounced Rajoy's planned power grab on social media.

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Mr Rajoy was notably scant on details and long on justification for direct rule in his speech, essentially limiting his much-anticipated package of specific measures to a broad-brushed description of the whys and wherefores for his government's substitution of the nationalist ministers.

As tensions continue to run high, independence supporters are set to rally in Barcelona Saturday evening calling for the release of Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, the leaders of two powerful grassroots separatist groups who have been in jail since Monday pending investigation into sedition charges.

A spokeswoman for Spain's Constitutional Court says the court's website has been affected by a cyberattack of unknown origin.

The Nationalist movement was, predictably, in uproar at their imminent loss of regional power and a major demonstration is planned this evening in Barcelona "in defence of rights and freedoms". She requested anonymity in line with internal rules.

Rajoy has called an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday to pave the way for the unprecedented intervention.

The measures could include stripping some or all of the top Catalan officials of their authority and laying out a roadmap to an early regional election for as early as January.

The goal is 'the return to legality and the recovery of institutional normalcy, ' the prime minister said Friday.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's Cabinet was meeting to outline the scope and timing of the measures the government plans to take under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.

Article 155 allows central authorities to intervene when one of Spain's 17 autonomous regions fails to comply with the law. "It is my wish to call an election as soon as normality is restored".

Opposition parties have agreed to support him in revoking Catalonia's autonomy.