Barcelona—Everyone saw it coming.

Failing to respond to Madrid’s ultimatum, Catalonia is set to lose its autonomy.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will meet his cabinet on Saturday to decide which measures of Article 155 will be enforced.  Rajoy is attending an EU meeting in Brussels, and that’s why the cabinet won’t meet today.

But, the fact that the meeting won’t happen till Saturday may suggest that Madrid is offering a last chance to Catalan President Carles Puigdemont to answer if the independence declaration is valid.

“Let no one doubt that the Government will do everything in its power to restore as soon as possible the legality and constitutional order,” said the government statement.

Puigdemont responded with a threat “to vote the formal declaration of independence.”

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Meanwhile, the measures the Spanish government will decide on must be approved by the Senate, which is controlled by Rajoy’s party. The approval could take weeks.

What might these measures look like?

  • Taking control of Catalonia’s security forces.
  • Taking control of the finances of the region, which is Spain’s wealthiest with 19% of GDP coming from there.
  • Suspending the Catalan Parliament.
  • Calling a snap election.

A snap election, however, could also backfire and further muddle the waters.  For it’d be seen as a second referendum vote.  And if a pro-independence party, under fresh leadership, wins a strong majority, Madrid would have less room to maneuver.

Madrid will have to pick its next steps carefully.  Spain is comprised of 17 autonomous regions, somewhat like individual U.S. States.  Each region has a different relationship with the national government.  And every region—and especially the Basque Country—will be watching how Rajoy is going to ‘punish’ Catalonia’s challenge of legitimacy.

 

 Featured image courtesy of Wikipedia