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How the Spanish PM plans to apply emergency rule in Catalonia

Measures up for Senate approval include dismissal of regional premier and calling of elections

articulo 155
Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy (left) at Saturday’s emergency Cabinet meeting. EFE

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has given concrete details of how his government plans to apply Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution in Catalonia, a provision which allows for Madrid to temporarily take control of internal affairs in the northeastern region.

Speaking in the early afternoon after an emergency Cabinet meeting called to address the escalating crisis in Catalonia, Rajoy said the government’s application of the article had four main aims: a return to legality in Catalonia; recovering normality and social harmony; a continuation of economic recovery; and the holding of elections.

The measures must now be passed by the Senate where the ruling Popular Party of Rajoy enjoys an absolute majority

The key points of the government action plan are:

1. The power to dissolve the Catalan regional parliament will pass to the Spanish prime minister. Regional elections are to take place within six months, although Rajoy specified that he wanted to “do this as soon as institutional normality is restored.”

2. The central government has asked the Senate to authorize the dismissal of Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont, deputy premier Oriol Junqueras and all ministers of the Catalan government. Their functions would be taken over by the corresponding ministries in Madrid until the current state of exception is over.

3. The Generalitat, as the Catalan executive is known, will continue to function and to be charged with administration in the region, with oversight from ministries in Madrid.

4. The Catalan parliament will not dissolved, and will continue to carry out its representative function. However, the speaker of the house will not be able to propose a new candidate for the regional premiership or propose investiture sessions. The speaker will also be barred from implementing initiatives that contravene the Spanish Constitution or the Catalan statue. In the event such initiatives are proposed, the central government will have 30 days in which to veto them.

The measures proposed by the government must now be approved by the Spanish Senate where Rajoy’s ruling Popular Party enjoys an absolute majority.

If the Senate does approve the plan, it will be the first time Madrid has enacted emergency powers limiting home rule in one of Spain’s autonomous regions since the Constitution of 1978 came into force.

English version by George Mills.

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