After the horrendous mistreatment of voters by the Spanish authorities during the Catalan Independence referendum, Spain’s leaders in coordination with the European Union are seeking to remove the right of self-governance.
In what many are describing as a “tyrannical and fascisistic” power grab, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that he would remove the separatist government of Catalonia and initiate a process of direct rule from Madrid. This is contrary to the wishes of the vast majority of Catalonians.
Prime Minister Rajoy intends to use Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution to remove the autonomous power of this long-suffering region. This is by no means the first move the Spanish government has taken to weaken power in the region. For decades, Madrid has been encouraging Spaniards to move to the region with financial incentives in an open attempt to “dilute” the native Catalonian power base.
Catalan Senator, Josep Lluís Cleries, said that the PM’s decision showed that, “the Spain of today is not democratic because what he has said is a return to the year 1975.” A clear reference to the death of General Francisco Franco.
Before releasing an official response to Spain’s “totalitarianism,” Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont will lead a rally through the streets of Barcelona (the region’s capital) and has called on all people to join him.
Even those who support Mr. Rajoy’s actions have fears that the move will actually create a worsening situation in which those who had little opinion on the matter of independence will be galvanized by the oppressive Article 155.
DW.com reports that Article 155 is known as, “the nuclear option.” Former Foreign Secretary Jose Manuel Garcia described it as “an atomic bomb.” It allows “all measures necessary to compel the community to meet said obligations, or to protect the above-mentioned general interest.” However, the Catalans feel that their relatively wealthy region is being used as a “slush fund” by the Spanish government.
The Article has never before been used in any of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions, but it has been threatened. Analysts suggest that it is a dangerous move to invoke this, as other regions may perceive it as a breakdown in the “standard relationship.”
King Felipe has suggested that he may also support the implementation of Article 155. He said: “It is the purpose of the legitimate powers of the state to make sure that constitutional order is abided by.”
In 2010, just 20% of the population supported indepence, but by 2015 that had doubled to 40%. Catalan Separatists say that they have almost 90% support for separation.
Mark is a political writer and journalist who has worked on campaigns for Brexit.