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Iran Press TV

Spain to dismiss Catalan government, hold new elections: Prime Minister

Iran Press TV

Sat Oct 21, 2017 02:25PM

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has announced Madrid's decision to dismiss Catalonia's separatist government and hold fresh elections in the region in a bid to prevent Catalan leaders from declaring independence.

Speaking after an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday, Rajoy said his government had no choice after the administration of Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont acted in a way that was "unilateral, contrary to the law and seeking confrontation" by holding a banned independence referendum in the northeastern region.

Referring to Article 155 of the constitution, which allows Madrid to wrest back control of rebellious regions, Rajoy said he was seeking the Senate's permission to dissolve the Catalan parliament and "call elections within a maximum of six months."

It would be the first time in Spain's four decades of democracy that Madrid will have invoked the constitution to effectively sack a regional government and call new elections.

The Spanish premier said he is also demanding that all of Puigdemont's government be stripped of their functions, which "in principle will be carried out by (national) ministers for the duration of this exceptional situation."

Puigdemont has refused to renounce independence, citing the October 1 independence referendum in which some 90 percent said 'Yes' to separation. He insists that he has a mandate to declare independence after the referendum.

This is while the turnout reportedly stood at only 43 percent as many Catalans who prefer unity stayed away from the vote which had been ruled unconstitutional. Some other Catalans could not vote as the police had shut down many polling stations.

The national Senate, where Rajoy's conservative Popular Party holds a majority, has now to decide whether to pass such unprecedented steps in a process that will take nearly a week.

The main opposition Socialists said they would support a package of extraordinary measures to impose central rule on Catalonia.

Catalonia's population of over 7.5 million intensely defends its own language and culture.

The currently-run government in Catalonia administers its own law enforcement, education and healthcare, but local press reports indicate that the Spanish premier is contemplating seizing control of the region's police force, the Mossos d'Esquadra.

Many EU leaders have warned against the ramifications of Catalonia's independence whose threat has already unsettled the euro and hurt confidence in the euro zone's fourth-largest economy.

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