As it happened | Spanish PM dissolves Catalan parliament, calls elections

Catch up on our live blog of another extraordinary day in Spanish politics, as Senate greenlights application of emergency measures under Article 155 of the Constitution, paving way for suspension of self-rule in region

Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont and fellow separatists celebrating the vote.
Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont and fellow separatists celebrating the vote.Alberto Estévez (EFE)

The separatist majority in the Catalan parliament on Friday voted in favor of starting a constituent process that will end in the proclamation of a republic.

The opposition walked out in protest over a vote that the parliament’s own legal team warned would be considered illegal because it is supported by a breakaway law that has been struck down by the Constitutional Court. The vote was secret in order to avoid any future criminal prosecution.

The outcome was 70 in favor, 10 against and two abstentions in the 135-seat chamber. The rest of the deputies were not present for the vote.

Speaker Carme Forcadell underscored that lawmakers would not be voting on the first part of the resolution put forward by the governing coalition of Junts pel Si and their ally CUP. This “declarative” preamble talks about a “Catalan Republic as an independent and sovereign State,” and was read out by Forcadell ahead of the vote.

Technically, deputies only voted on the second part of the resolution, which did not contain such wording.

The resolution proposes declaring independence and opening up a constituent process that will end in “the drafting and approval of the republic’s constitution.”

The text also asks the Catalan government to roll out the transitional law leading to a Catalan republic. This law, and another one that provided a legal framework for the October 1 referendum on independence, were ruled unconstitutional by the Spanish courts.

Earlier this morning, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy spoke in the Senate to defend Article 155 of the Constitution in Catalonia, which will see the region’s powers of self-government curtailed.

During a 45-minute speech, Rajoy warned that Spain was faced with an “exceptional situation,” and stated that “Article 155 is not against Catalonia but to avoid the abuse of Catalonia.”

That concludes our live coverage for today, we'll be back tomorrow morning with the latest news.

Thanks for reading.

Former deputy premier Oriol Junqueras tweets: "Do every day what is in your hands to see that good defeats evil at the polls on December 21. On your feet, with determination, and until we are victorious."

Civil Guard vans carrying the former members of the Catalan government head towards their respective jails.


Here's our full story on the judge's order today to send eight former members of the Catalan government to jail.


Spanish government sources said they have no comment to make on the Audiencia Nacional’s decision to remand eight officials in custody. Sources at La Moncloa noted that the government never comments on legal decisions, Europa Press reports.


The former officials will not be sent to Soto del Real penitentiary, as was initially expected. The Interior Ministry has informed the Audiencia Nacional that the group of eight will be distributed among five different prisons, all of them in the Madrid region. These are Alcalá de Henares (Madrid I), Estremera (Madrid VII), Valdemoro (Madrid III) Navalcarnero (Madrid IV and Aranjuez (Madrid VI).

These are the former Catalan officials who will be held in pre-trial detention: left to right, starting with the top row, Oriol Junqueras, Meritxell Borràs, Raül Romeva, Dolors Bassa, Josep Rull, Carles Mundó, Jordi Turull, Joaquim Forn. The last one,Santi Vila, can avoid prison if he posts bail set at €50,000.

There are expressions of dismay and tearful faces on display among supporters of Catalan independence who have gathered outside the Audiencia Nacional in Madrid. The group began singing Els Segadors, the official anthem of Catalonia, and chanting “llibertat” (freedom). But mostly there is silence, Iñigo Domínguez reports.

Judge Lamela has yet to issue a decision regarding an arrest warrant for ousted Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont and other former officials who are with him in Brussels, Fernando J. Pérez reports.

"A black day for Catalonia," says Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau. "The government democratically chosen at the ballot boxes, in jail."

The lawyer for Santi Vila, the only member of a group of eight former Catalan officials who has not been remanded in custody, says that “Vila talked with the government of Spain and with Puigdemont to find a negotiated way out of this (the crisis).”

To achieve independence for Catalonia, the accused, according to the judge, “made use of the population encourage acts of public insurrection, disobedience and collective resistance to the legitimate authority of the state, occupying to that effect highways, streets and public buildings and subjecting officers of the law to incessant harassment.”

The lawyer representing ousted deputy premier Oriol Junqueras about the decision to remand his client in custody: “This decision was prepared or premeditated.”

The leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, calls for “freedom for political prisoners” in this tweet.

“I am ashamed that in my country opponents are locked up. We don’t want independence for Catalonia, but today we say: freedom for political prisoners.”

In her writ, the judge said that the suspects’ actions were “premeditated and perfectly prepared and organized.” For over two years they systematically ignored decisions issued by the Constitutional Court in their drive for independence, wrote Judge Carmen Lamela.

Catalan parliament deputy Mireia Boya Busquets, of the CUP party, tweets:

"The legitimate government [of Catalonia] to jail. This is a fascist state. If we normalize this they will destroy us as a people. We will react for human rights and the Republic."

The judge decided that the suspects are a flight risk because of their high incomes and the fact that other former officials who had been summoned to court on the same day instead fled to Belgium – including former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont.

The lawyer acting for former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, has tweeted a message about the judge's decision to hold the Catalan politicians in custody. "Jail for all. Feeling of great injustice. Sad day for democracy."

The far-left anti-capitalist CUP party is also calling for protests against the High Court judge's decision

"Freedom for the ministers," reads this tweet:

Pro-independence group ANC has already called for demonstrations outside the Catalan parliament and the region’s local council headquarters to call for the ex-ministers to be released.


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