Catalan parliament passes motion for independent Republic

Catalan parliament passes motion for independent Republic

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Catalonia’s regional parliament has passed a motion saying it will establish an independent Catalan Republic. Separatist legislators erupted in applause as the vote was approved with 70 votes in favour, 10 against and two blank ballots.

Most opposition members had left the chamber in protest moments before the vote. Spain opposes the independence bid and the national government in Madrid is readying measures to take over control of the north-eastern region. No country has expressed support for the secession bid.

The motion calls for beginning an independence process that includes drafting Catalonia’s new top laws and opening negotiations “on equal footing” with Spanish authorities to establish co-operation.

Spain’s prime minister had earlier urged the Senate to grant special constitutional measures that would allow the central government to take control of Catalonia’s autonomous powers to halt the independence bid.

Mariano Rajoy, who received rapturous applause before and after his impassioned speech in the Senate in Madrid, told the chamber Spain was facing a challenge not seen in its recent history. What is happening in Catalonia is “a clear violation of the laws, of democracy, of the rights of all, and that has consequences”, he said.

Mr Rajoy said the government’s first move would be to dismiss Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and his regional ministers if the Senate approves the Spanish government’s use of Article 155 of the constitution in a vote later on Friday.

The special measures, he said, were the only way out of the crisis, adding that Spain is not trying to take away liberties from Catalans but instead protect them. Catalan separatist legislators have filed a motion to hold a vote in the upcoming regional parliament session on whether to establish a republic independent of Spain.

The proposal of the ruling Catalan coalition Junts pel Si (Together for Yes) and their allies of the far-left CUP party said: “We establish a Catalan Republic as an independent and sovereign state of democratic and social law.”

Legislators from both parliamentary groups have a slim majority that would in theory allow them to pass the motion during a vote later on Friday, if the parliament’s advisory board allows it.

The move is opposed by all the opposition in the prosperous region -with some saying they will boycott the vote- and in Spain, where authorities are seeking to sack the Catalan ruling coalition to halt their secession bid.

The move came as several thousand protesters gathered near Catalonia’s regional parliament in Barcelona.
Waving Catalan flags and chanting “independence” and “freedom”, the demonstrators rallied outside the park in which parliament is located, hoping to see the proclamation of a new independent state by the end of the day.

Spain’s prime minister earlier urged the Senate to grant special constitutional measures that would allow the central government to take control of Catalonia’s autonomous powers to try to halt the region’s independence bid.

Mariano Rajoy, who received rapturous applause before and after his impassioned speech, told the chamber Spain is facing a challenge not seen in its recent history. He said what is happening in Catalonia is “a clear violation of the laws, of democracy, of the rights of all, and that has consequences”.

Mr Rajoy said the government’s first move would be to dismiss Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and his ministers if the Senate approves the Spanish government’s use of Article 155 of the constitution in a vote later on Friday.

He said the special measures are the only way out of the crisis, and that Madrid is not trying to take away liberties from Catalans but instead protect them.

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