Catalonia's lawmakers have voted for independence from Madrid, claiming they have a mandate for secession after a referendum earlier this month.
The motion to declare a republic was voted for by secret ballot in the regional parliament in Barcelona on Friday. Out of 135 lawmakers, only 82 took part in the vote, of which 70 voted in favor of independence with 10 against. Two lawmakers cast blank ballots. Minutes prior to the vote on independence, Catalan lawmakers from the Socialist Party, People's Party, and Ciudadanos left the chamber.
In response, less than an hour later the national parliament voted to invoke Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which allows Madrid to fire the government of an autonomous region, install a technocratic government and call new elections. This marks the first time the article has been used since the Spanish constitution was established in 1978.
Spanish government pledges to "defend the law" in Catalonia
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called on Spaniards to remain calm and vowed to restore the rule of law in the country.
Pido tranquilidad a todos los españoles. El Estado de Derecho restaurará la legalidad en Cataluña. MR— Mariano Rajoy Brey (@marianorajoy) 27 октября 2017 г.
"I ask for calm from all Spaniards. The rule of law will restore legality in Catalonia," Rahoy tweeted.
El Gobierno de España asume con responsabilidad su obligación: defender la ley, la convivencia y los derechos de todos los españoles pic.twitter.com/FCwCGZhni1— Mariano Rajoy Brey (@marianorajoy) 27 октября 2017 г.
"The Spanish government assumes its responsibility and obligation: to defend the law, coexistence and the rights of all Spaniards."
The Catalan authorities held the referendum despite a ruling from Spain's Constitutional Court which declared it void. Amid violent clashes with police, turnout exceeded 43 percent. More than 2.28 million voters, or 90.18 percent of those who voted, supported the secession of Catalonia from Spain.
On Friday, Rahoy said that temporary measures to take control of Catalonia could last as long as six months. Currently, Catalonia has extensive powers in areas such as civil law, the police, education, health care agriculture and tourism.