Spanish PM dissolves Catalan parliament and calls fresh elections

The Guardian reports: The Spanish government has taken control of Catalonia, dissolved its parliament and announced new elections after secessionist Catalan MPs voted to establish an independent republic, pushing the country’s worst political crisis in 40 years to new and dangerous heights.

Speaking on Friday evening, the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, said his cabinet had fired the regional president, Carles Puigdemont, and ordered regional elections to be held on 21 December.

Rajoy said the Catalan government had been removed along with the head of the regional police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra. The Catalan government’s international “embassies” are also to be shut down. [Continue reading…]

Simon Tisdall writes: What comes next could make or break Rajoy and his government. But it could also make or break Spain.

Hardliners in Madrid, including members of Rajoy’s ruling People’s party, are champing at the bit. They will now demand a quick end to the protracted Catalan crisis, which has transfixed the entire country since the region’s disputed independence referendum earlier this month.

Ultra-unionists who have long sought to clip the wings of Catalonia’s autonomy will see a chance, and a justification, to bring secessionist leaders crashing down to earth. Their main targets are Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan president, Oriol Junqueras, his deputy, and Carme Forcadell, speaker of the Catalan assembly.

The penalties for rebellion under the Spanish constitution are harsh. Rajoy’s government has already shown itself willing to wield this weapon, locking up two leading Catalan independence advocates and appearing to throw away the key.

Jordi Sanchez, head of the Catalan National Assembly pressure group, and Jordi Cuixart of Omnium Cultural, were remanded in custody without the possibility of bail last week for alleged sedition. They face up up to 15 years in prison. [Continue reading…]

BBC News reports: The Scottish government has said it “respects and understands” the position of the Catalan government, which has declared independence from Spain.

In a statement, External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop did not explicitly recognise Catalonia as an independent state.

But she said the people of Catalonia “must have the ability to determine their own future”.

And she called for a “process of dialogue” to resolve the crisis. [Continue reading…]

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