MADRID: The Spanish government sought Saturday to use a constitutional power to take control of Catalonia following a movement pushing for its independence.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he is using Article 155 of the country’s constitution to allow central ministers from Madrid to take the reigns from the regional ministers in Catalonia in a move to “restore normalcy.”
The power would allow him to call regional elections in Catalonia, which can only be done at the moment by the region’s top leader.
“There is no country in the world ready to allow this kind of situation within its borders,” Rajoy said on Saturday, according to the AP.
“It is my wish to call elections as soon as normality is restored,” he continued.
The move is seen as an attack on the region’s autonomy by Catalans and those on the political left in Spain.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont is set to deliver a televised address late Saturday.
The leader of Spain’s ultra-left Podemos party blasted Rajoy’s move to take control of Catalonia.
“We are in shock about the suspension of democracy in Catalonia,” Pablo Echenique said, promising to end the prime minister’s right-leaning Popular Party’s majority in the central government.
Madrid’s move comes as the country comes face to face with its worst constitutional crisis since the 1930s.
Catalonia, which speaks its own language and views itself as culturally separate from the rest of Spain, held a referendum earlier this month that resulted in violence between Spanish police and voters, leaving 800 people injured.
Spain’s Constitutional Court has moved against the region’s move toward secession, however Puigdemont had signed a document declaring independence from Spain earlier this month.