The Catalan parliament voted Friday overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Spain, reaffirming the result of the contested independence referendum the region held nearly four weeks ago. The vote marked a major escalation in Catalonia’s territorial dispute with Spain’s central government in Madrid. “We shall constitute the Catalan Republic as an independent, and sovereign, democratic, and social state of law,” the motion read.
But of course it won’t be that simple.
If anything, the passage of the motion puts hopes for Catalan independence even further away. At the same time it was being held, Madrid was threatening to impose direct rule on its northeastern region, which would mean taking away the broad autonomy long enjoyed there and dismissing the very regional government that led the independence push—including Catalan President Carles Puigdemont. It seemed likely even before the Catalan parliament acted that Spanish lawmakers would grant Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy the authority he had requested, under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, to suspend Catalan autonomy. And passage of the independence motion all but assured it. Shortly after Catalonia’s regional parliament voted in Barcelona, the Spanish senate voted in Madrid to hand Rajoy extraordinary powers over the region. “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,” Rajoy told lawmakers Friday.