For the first time in Spain’s history, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will invoke far- reaching powers covered by Article 155 of the 1978 Constitution to end Catalonia’s pursuit of independence and “to restore the legality” of its government.
Article 155 allows the central government to require all of its 17 regions to strictly adhere to the law when it becomes readily apparent that disobedience “gravely threatens the general interest of Spain.”
The provision is regarded as the “ultimate constitutional weapon” Rajoy could brandish to lay to rest the illegal referendum held by Catalonia on October 1.
The law is interpreted to mean that the central government can legally end a rebellious region through constitutional means. However there are no clear measures or procedures on how to go about it without undergoing delays or potential blocking from members of the Senate.
Catalonia President Carles Puigdemont demanded to meet with the Spanish government in Madrid or he would proceed with his threat to declare unilateral independence.
“If the central government persists in blocking dialogue and continues its repression, the Catalan parliament may proceed, if it considers it appropriate to approve a formal declaration of independence.”
Prime Minister Rajoy is scheduled to attend a two-day summit in Brussels with fellow European Union leaders. Meanwhile, Rajoy’s advisers were meeting with members of the opposition Socialist party to discuss the measures they will take against Catalonia.
Once finalized, the Cabinet will need authorization from the Spanish Senate. Rajoy’s People’s Party has the majority vote in the Senate which is due to meet on October 24.
The Spanish equities market dropped with the news the Spanish central government would proceed with its suspension of the Catalan government’s powers. Its benchmark index was down by 0.8% while the spread between the country’s 10-year government bond and similarly dated German bonds grew by 2 basis points.
Puigdemont still has the option to call early regional elections and seek a new mandate for independence. Should Spain take control of Catalonia, Rajoy himself would have to call elections if he wants to restore order in the region.