Support Catalans’ Right to Decide Their Future!
Oppose the Spanish Government’s Takeover!
On October 28, the Spanish government imposed direct rule on the autonomous region of Catalonia, using Article 155 of the Spanish constitution. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has now replaced Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, dissolved the regional parliament and called a regional election for December 21. The Rajoy government, known for its anti-people austerity measures, has proven incapable of resolving the crisis politically and has refused all invitations to dialogue. Puigdemont and the 12 members of the Catalan cabinet will no longer be paid and could be charged with usurping others’ functions if they refuse to obey, news agencies report. In a brief televised address at 2:30 pm local time, Puigdemont rejected the takeover and called on Catalans to peacefully oppose it. He stated that only the regional parliament can elect or dismiss the Catalan government and that “we will continue working to build a free country.”
The director of the Catalan regional police, who was also fired, issued a statement saying he would comply with his termination. The regional police force tweeted later that day that “protecting and guaranteeing the safety of people is our priority. We continue working normally.” The 17,000 members of the Catalan police had refused to participate in the state violence carried out by the Spanish national police to stop the October 1 referendum.
TML Weekly calls on everyone to support the right of Catalans to decide their future, and denounces the takeover of the Catalan government by the Spanish government and its ongoing threats of state repression and state violence.
The imposition of direct rule by the Spanish government on Catalonia followed the Catalan parliament’s formal vote for independence from Spain on October 27. This vote was a further act of defiance of the Spanish government, which has been escalating state repression to criminalize Catalans’ right to decide their future. This had culminated in the massive police violence in the lead-up to and during the October 1 non-binding referendum, in which nearly 1,000 people were injured. In the referendum, 43 per cent of voters turned out and voted 90 per cent in favour of independence. More recently on October 17, the Spanish High Court ordered the heads of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and independence group Omnium to be held without bail pending an investigation for alleged sedition for organizing the October 1 referendum and the protests against state repression.
Just prior to the October 27 vote on Catalonia’s independence, deputies for the three parties opposed to independence walked out of the parliament. Those remaining voted 70 in favour of independence, 10 against, with two blank ballots. The vote was held as a secret ballot to guard against any attempt by the Spanish state to prosecute those who voted in favour of independence. The Catalan parliament has 135 seats, of which 72 belong to a coalition of parties that support independence. Previously, President Puigdemont, while acknowledging the October 1 result, had declined to formally declare independence, instead proposing that the effects of an independence declaration be suspended for two months to permit a period of dialogue.
Also on October 27, shortly after the vote in the Catalan parliament, the Spanish Senate authorized the Rajoy government to implement Article 155 of the constitution. This article allows the national government to implement direct rule over any of the 17 autonomous communities and two autonomous cities that comprise Spain’s regional governments.
The autonomous communities, which correspond to historic regions and/or nationalities within Spain, exercise self-governance within the limits of the Spanish constitution and their autonomous statutes. The current Spanish constitution came into being in 1978 after the end of the Franco dictatorship. Its official English translation describes Article 155 as “Execution by Government of Community’s obligations in case of non-compliance.” It reads:
“1. If a Self-governing Community does not fulfil the obligations imposed upon it by the Constitution or other laws, or acts in a way that is seriously prejudicial to the general interest of Spain, the Government, after having lodged a complaint with the President of the Self-governing Community and failed to receive satisfaction therefore, may, following approval granted by the overall majority of the Senate, take all measures necessary to compel the Community to meet said obligations, or to protect the abovementioned general interest.
“2. With a view to implementing the measures provided for in the foregoing paragraph, the Government may issue instructions to all the authorities of the Self-governing Communities.”
1. See here.
(With files from: Quartz, BBC, Reuters, Guardian, Associated Press, New York Times. Photos: Catalan News, The Pileus, M. Yiannopfans)