Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday said that he had dissolved the Catalan parliament and called regional elections on December 21 under sweeping powers approved by the Senate to stop a secessionist movement in Catalonia.
Rajoy said he had also formally removed Catalonia’s separatist leader Carles Puigdemont and his executive from office as part of measures to “restore normality” after the Catalan parliament voted to declare independence earlier in the day.
Earlier, Catalan lawmakers had voted to declare independence from Spain but Madrid immediately moved to quash the breakaway bid in a sharp escalation of a crisis that has caused jitters in secession-wary Europe.
As tens of thousands of pro-independence activists gathered outside, the regional parliament in Barcelona passed a resolution to “declare Catalonia an independent state in the form of a republic”.
Demonstrators broke out in ecstatic cheers and shouts of: “Independence!” as the vote count was announced, while MPs inside cheered, clapped and embraced before breaking out in the Catalan anthem.
Urging Spaniards to “remain calm” as the country headed into the unknown, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had insisted that “the rule of law will restore legality in Catalonia”.