Madrid – Spain announced drastic measures Saturday to stop Catalan leaders from pressing ahead with independence, moving to dismiss the region’s separatist government, taking control of all ministries and calling fresh elections.
The measures still have to be submitted for approval to Spain’s Senate, but the upper house is majority-controlled by members of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s ruling Popular Party and he has secured the support of other major parties, meaning they will almost certainly go through. So what exactly do these proposals entail?
– Catalan government – The Spanish government has asked the Senate to dismiss the entire Catalan regional government, including president Carles Puigdemont and vice-president Oriol Junqueras. They will be replaced by nominations from the central government.Rajoy told reporters that the idea was for each ministry of his government to take over for as long as this “exceptional situation” lasts.
– Catalan police force – Under the proposed measures, Catalonia’s regional police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, will come under direct Madrid control. According to the document outlining the proposed measures, whoever is named by the central government to take the reins of the regional interior ministry will “give members of Catalonia’s police — the Mossos d’Esquadra — direct instructions they will have to comply with”.
– Telecommunications and media – “Telecommunications and digital services” will also come under Madrid’s governance. That includes the Telecommunications and Information Technology Centre, which controls all of the Catalan government’s telecoms and online services. Unions at TV3 have accused the television channel of broadcasting biased information in favour of independence, just as unions of the Spain-wide TVE news channel have accused it of being biased in favour of Madrid.
– Regional parliament – Madrid has also proposed to take control of the Catalan parliament’s activity, where pro-independence lawmakers have an absolute majority, with 72 seats out of 135. The Spanish government has not called for Carme Forcadell, the head of the Catalan parliament and a staunch independence supporter, to be replaced. But it stipulates the regional parliament “won’t be able to process initiatives that run counter” to the proposed measures.