Spain Activates "Nuclear Option": Will Seize Control Of Catalan Government, Force New Elections

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy asked lawmakers to grant him unprecedented powers to force leaders of the Catalonia region to cease their independence push, a dramatic escalation in the confrontation between Spain and the separatist region, which the WSJ - and virtually everyone else - has said will be a major test for Spanish democracy.  According to The Spain Report, this is the first time in the modern democratic period that a central government has suspended home rule in one of Spain's 17 regions.

Rajoy announced that his central government would use Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution to remove the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, and sack the entire Catalan regional government as part of a barrage of actions, and force new elections on the region within six months. Summoning the sweeping powers of Article 155, Rajoy said Saturday, was a last resort. 

Puigdemont and his regional administration will be removed from office once the Spanish Senate approves the government’s plan as soon as this week and Spanish government ministers will take over the management of the Catalan administration, Rajoy said according to Bloomberg. The responsibilities of the Catalan government will be administered in the interim period by central government ministries. Furthermore, the Catalan Parliament will not be allowed to present a new candidate for First Minister, to prevent Puigdemont from being reappointed.

Rajoy said "This is not a suspension of home rule but the dismissal of those who lead the regional government". The Spanish Senate will be in charge of controlling the process. As a result, Rajoy said Spain’s central government would temporarily control Catalonia’s regional ministries until new elections are called. The prime minister said he is seeking to convene regional elections within six months.

"The First Minister of the Catalan government was invited to parliament and he did not accept", said Mr. Rajoy, in a long press conference following an extraordinary cabinet meeting on Saturday, adding that Catalan leaders had tried to "impose" their will on the central government.

“We are going to work to return to normality,” Rajoy said, as car horns sounded in downtown Madrid. “We are going to work so that all Catalans can feel united and participate in a common project in Europe and the world that has been know for centuries as Spain.”

Rajoy also said that “the economic recovery is under an obvious threat because of Catalonia,” during the Madrid press conference, and said that “this is about peoples lives, jobs, salaries" as "Companies are fleeing” and "data on tourism is also worrisome, the tensions are deterring visitors.”

The "most anti-democratic part" of the past few weeks was "what happened in the Catalan Parliament on September 6 and 7". "Dialogue is a lovely word", said the PM, but "Dialogue does not mean the others have to accept your demands". "Dialogue outside of the law is deeply undemocratic".

Rajoy said there were four aims of applying Article 155 in Catalonia:

  • to return to the rule of law,
  • to get back to normality and "coexistence",
  • to continue with the economic recovery, and
  • to hold elections in a situation of normality.

He said the six-month period before elections was the maximum period of time he would like to see pass before a new vote. The PM also said the Article 155 can now only be stopped "if the Senate does not approve it", which however won't happen as the governing Popular Party holds an absolute majority in the Spanish Senate.

Rajoy thanked two opposition parties, the Socialists and Ciudadanos, for their support for the measures, and said that Saturday's announced measures had been hammered out in recent days with leaders from two of the main oppositions parties, a sign of the widespread political support for the prime minister’s bid to halt Catalan authorities’ accelerating steps to secede from Spain.

As Bloomberg notes, the move may be "a watershed moment for Spain and its 1.1 trillion euro ($1.3 trillion) economy, which counts on Catalonia for a fifth of its output." Hundreds of companies have already set up headquarters elsewhere in the country to avoid a legal limbo that emerged after Catalan leaders on Oct. 10 claimed the right to an independent republic.

And now that Spain has ended the game of cat and mouse, and effectively pulled the plug on Catalan independence, with the central government’s measure due to come into force within days Catalan leaders are due to meet Monday to discuss whether to push ahead with a unilateral declaration of independence. With Madrid having taken the first step, Puigdemont now has the liberty of playing the "oppression" card, even if Spain explicitly stated it is not suspending Catalan autonomy, so the semantical war of words will continue, although for the separatist movement the time has now come to either officially declare independence or end the process.

The question is what happens should the Catalan leaders follow through and declare Catalonia is independent, forcing retaliation, perhaps violent, from Spain. The answer will be unveiled shortly: the Catalan President will make a statement at 9pm according to a spokesman, and Puigdemont also attend a demonstration in downtown Barcelona at 5 p.m.


Dutti tmosley Sat, 10/21/2017 - 09:10 Permalink

The Catalan separatists have gone too far. The hard core consists mostly of leftists and anarchists.However, of course it's not over and there will be protests, strikes and possibly more harmful actions.It's bad for Catalonia, the whole of Spain and by extension bad for the EU.

In reply to by tmosley

nmewn lucitanian Sat, 10/21/2017 - 16:32 Permalink

Reporters are only saying Knee-Jair because it makes them sound cosmopolitan and/or French thus more "continental". They are (ostensibly) American reporters AND they have been pronouncing it Nigh-Jur all my life.So fuck them and their high brow petty bullshit, they're all limp wristed faggots anyways. 

In reply to by lucitanian

Don Diego y3maxx Sat, 10/21/2017 - 11:32 Permalink

LOL. If the independentists are not in the next elections it is because they are boycotting them, but this is highly unlikely, there is no way they will renounce to the highly paid representative jobs (and all the cash it brings to the party).Pro independence support has dropped from 46% to 36% in the last few weeks according to .cat media:…

In reply to by y3maxx

DeadFred nmewn Sat, 10/21/2017 - 09:59 Permalink

True that. I always prefer no bloodshed so look for the nonviolent techniques. Withdraw all their deposits from the banks. Knock out the traffic lights at key intersections (including those in Madrid). 'Defer' paying your taxes. There aren't enough cops in Spain to rule without the consent of the population so their economy is vulnerable. Any real chaos will be a knife into the Euro system and that's good by me.

In reply to by nmewn

Dabooda Meat Hammer Sat, 10/21/2017 - 14:22 Permalink

If the Catalonians were out to destroy government, their movement might be worth something more than a yawn.  They're not, though.  Just looking to install a new gang of tyrants, same-old, same-old.  Someday folks should figure out that liberty and government are opposite concepts, and that -- in both theory and practice -- they are totally incompatible with one another.

In reply to by Meat Hammer

wise_owl_says... Arnold Sat, 10/21/2017 - 09:40 Permalink

catlan special snowflakes (run away attempt from huge debt obligations) will capitulate before tanks start rolling. soon to be same USA scenario. pay your debts, refuse future debt, then declare independence. kick out central banksters BIS and their paper crack cocain NWO agenda for good. all you pussies know that is not going to happen. everbody is additced to easy greeen light fiat or electronic binary. still nobody gets it, including ZHers. only real money is gold and silver... nothing else!.

In reply to by Arnold

BobEore Dutti Sat, 10/21/2017 - 09:52 Permalink

Hard core STATISTS everywhere are biting their nails... hoping that the Rajoy clique has the 'right stuff' to snuff the cataclysm of revolts large and small - breaking out all around the world right now...

against empires, states centralism, and imperial ambitions in general. It's like watching the boy with his finger in the dike. HOPING beyond hope that what worked in the past will work again in this new millennium, the authoritarians consult their manuals for tips on the majic of

Tiananmen Sq., Zimbabwe, Buenos Aires, from the days of the Generals, maybe a lil Pinochet and the Stadiums, Noriega and the El Salvadoreans, kids thrown out of copters, just to spice things up!

Hopeless nostalgia merry mensch! It's over for youse. The revolution of the Cantons taking place in the muddled east, the devolution of Europe, breakaway statelets like Ngorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia...

are all just preludes to the coming reformation... in which the omnipresent omnivorous STATE becomes besieged with workable alternatives to its' immutably fascist character.

Best band together bouys - as statist always do, when their common right of title is challenged; you'll make a fine gaggle of oddball allies - just like when the REDS AND THE WHITES were forced to drop their war against each other in Russia 1917-21... and Spain 1937-39...

to jointly snuff out the rebellions against their monopolies of power and privilege!

"Made to believe by all of these false storylines that nation states and the people who live in them are battling each other over some fundamental difference or other - we have lost sight of the real battle - that of citizen versus state! No real division of interests exists, in other words, between the regimes in charge of those various capitals where figurehead leaders wag their fingers at other puppet princes in other satrapies of the one and only power which really matters. All of them believe in the State - as the supreme and heaven-mandated entity with the right to reign over it's citizens, instead of being reined in by them!"…

In reply to by Dutti

BobEore Dutti Sat, 10/21/2017 - 10:34 Permalink

mights bin better if y'ad just stuck to your impotent resort to the vote meter and

left it at that big dutt... the comical inclusion of the unnecessary sarc notice,in addition to the over the top attempt at some kind of rejoinder,

gives one the impression that something has indeed -struck a nerve - so to speak, in my characterization of your control fetish operating under the guise of cheering for central states!

tal luego!

In reply to by Dutti

nmewn Arnold Sat, 10/21/2017 - 09:16 Permalink

"The election was overseen by Jimmy Carter to assure complete fairness and integrity. The parking lots around Barcelona were full as bus loads of people from Madrid eager to participate in a real democracy filled the streets around polling stations giving it a festive atmosphere." ;-)

In reply to by Arnold