After a tense debate that saw opposition politicians storm out of the room, the Catalan Parliament passed a motion to declare independence from Spain. The final vote was 70-10 with 2 abstentions.
“Today we will found a new country based on these principles, and dignity. We’re doing it,” said Marta Rovira of the Together for Yes coalition.
Inés Arrimadas, one of the politicians who refused to participate, called the vote “an attack on the fundamental values of the European Union.”
Prime Minister Rajoy responded to the vote with a tweet urging Spaniards to be “calm” and assuring them that “the rule of law will restore legality to Catalonia.”
Catalonia’s declaration of independence follows a whirlwind of events that began on October 1st when Catalonia held a referendum on independence that had previously been ruled illegal by the Spanish government. Voter turnout was low, but 90% of participants chose independence.
Separatist leader Carles Puigdemont declared the results of the illegal referendum binding, and sought to negotiate with Madrid before moving forward with independence.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy refused all requests to negotiate, instead threatening to invoke Article 155 of the nation’s constitution – a move that would give Madrid the power to seize control of Catalonia.
Almost simultaneous with Catalonia’s declaration of independence comes Senate approval for imposing direct rule in Catalonia. “In my opinion, there is no alternative,” said PM Rajoy, criticizing the separatists’ actions as a “mockery of democracy.”
“What is being debated today is whether Spain, faced with a matter that affects its stability, its international image, the integrity of its territory, and the welfare of its people, has the right – or not – to defend itself by invoking the constitution and the laws,” Rajoy told lawmakers ahead of the Senate vote. “What threatens Catalonia is not Article 155, but the attitude of the Catalan government.”
Editor’s note: The whole world is watching for a variety of reasons. A successful bid for independence by Catalonia, will inspire an avalanche of secession bids that will fracture the EU into a hundred pieces and inspire border wars in much of the world.