Spain—The ping-pong of threats continues.

Following an emergency cabinet meeting last Saturday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has announced his plans for Catalonia.

The measures, which are only possible by triggering Article 155, an unprecedented move in Spain’s– 42-year-old democracy, would see the national government taking control of Catalonia’s administration, police force, and public media.

“Rajoy has announced a de facto coup d’état against the Catalan institutions,” said President of the Catalan parliament Carme Forcadell.

The Spanish Senate approved the measures on a Friday vote.

In the morning, however, the Catalan Parliament declared unilateral independence with 70 MPs voting for the motion and 10 against it.  The opposition in the 135 MP Catalan parliament absented.

Madrid is now able to sack Catalan government ministers, civil servants, and police officers.

Alongside the Basque Country, Catalonia is the only other region to deploy its organic regional law enforcement, the Mossos d’Esquadra.  Following the referendum debacle, the Catalan police chief Josep Trapero was investigated for sedition by a national court.  And Rajoy has alluded to an increased presence of national police and paramilitary officers in the defiant region.

Then, an election would happen within six months.

But an election may backfire: in the last regional election, separatists won 48% of the vote.  Emotions are running high.  By calling an election, Rajoy assumes the risk of it being seen as a second referendum vote.  And this time an inarguably legitimate vote (in the Oct 1st referendum only 43% of Catalans participated).

Catalan President Luis Puigdemont from his side can do little.

His political career is tied to the cause of Catalan independence.  Since the unilateral declaration will undoubtedly be voided by the Spanish judiciary, his future looks bleak.  He could call a snap election, but not for his benefit as he’s viewed as a traitor by many within separatist movement.

But Article 155 will come into effect.

Catalan Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Romeva said that “the people and the institutions in Catalonia will not let [a takeover] happen.”

And he’s not alone in his boldness.  The region’s far-left party CUP, which supports secession, has already called for “massive civil disobedience” in case Madrid assumes control.


Featured image courtesy of AP