BARCELONA: In an extraordinary showdown over the future of the country, the Spanish and Catalan parliaments staged dueling sessions Friday – as the central government pressed for permission to take over control of the breakaway region, and the secessionists in Catalonia threatened to declare independence.
In Madrid, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy urged the Senate to grant the central government unprecedented powers to establish control over Catalonia, which earlier this month defied Spanish authorities and held a referendum that backed the push for statehood.
If the Senate invokes the never-before-used Article 155 of Spain’s 1978 constitution, the central government could move swiftly to remove the Catalan president, suspend his ministers and assume authority over the region’s public media, police and finances.
Rajoy told the Senate that his government had repeatedly tried to rein in the secessionists in Catalonia. He scoffed at Catalan President Carles Puigdemont’s repeated offers of “dialogue” to end the impasse.
“The word dialogue is a lovely word. It creates good feelings,” Rajoy said. “But dialogue has two enemies: those who abuse, ignore and forget the laws, and those who only want to listen to themselves, who do not want to understand the other party.”
“Catalans must be protected from an intolerant minority that is awarding itself ownership of Catalonia, and is trying to subject all Catalans to the yoke of its own doctrine,” the prime minister said.