Catalonia’s independence standoff: What comes next
An extraordinary Cabinet meeting will be held on Saturday to agree the measures to be taken before they are sent to the Senate for approval, the government said.
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has not yet responded to the Madrid government’s move.
But in a letter sent shortly before the announcement, he threatened that the region could formally declare independence if the Spanish government did not engage in dialogue.
Puigdemont also demanded Spain end its “repression” of Catalan separatist leaders, two of whom are in custody on suspicion of sedition.
What does Article 155 involve?
Never invoked before, Article 155 of the 1978 Spanish constitution is the legal mechanism under which Catalonia’s autonomy can be suspended.
It allows the central government to take back control of regions, such as Catalonia and the Basque Country, that were granted sweeping freedoms after the 1975 downfall of the Franco dictatorship, if they act beyond the law or threaten the national interest.
Such a step would almost certainly mean officers from the Guardia Civil, the national security force, being deployed once again in the streets of Catalonia, a provocative act that risks sparking violence.
The Madrid government said it was moving ahead with triggering Article 155 to restore “constitutional order” and to protect the interests of all Spanish people, including Catalans.
What would independence mean?
An independent Catalonia would have few friends, with other EU countries fearing breakaway movements as well. In any case, under EU rules, Catalonia would not be a member of the European Union on its own, and would have to apply for membership from outside the bloc.
But many observers think that despite crumbling relations between officials in Barcelona and Madrid, the two sides will be able to negotiate a settlement that could leave Catalonia with more autonomy and increased control over its own finances.
Even so, uncertainty and public unrest in the coming days (or months) could do a fair bit of damage to local businesses and the economy.
What’s happened in recent days?
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