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.”