The Spanish foreign minister has denied that the Spanish government’s move to suspend constitutional government in Catalonia amounts to a coup.
On Saturday Madrid announced the move, which was immediately condemned by the Catalan authorities as a “coup d’etat”.
Three weeks ago, on the 1st October, Catalonia held an independence referendum which was declared illegal by the Spanish government.
The Spanish state clamped down hard on those taking part and there were scenes of violent clashes during the election.
The numbers who took part in the referendum were approximately 43% of the population.
Of the Catalans who voted, it is thought that 90% voted in favor of independence.
But the Unionist party, which won 40% of the vote in 2015, when Catalonia went to the polls, refused to participate in the referendum.
They may not have been the only people to boycott it either, with other anti independence elements also not voting in the referendum.
It is assumed that the announcement to suspend the regional government will result in the police force being brought back under national state control and the TV channel TV3, as well.
The prime minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy said that the move was necessary to “restore order”. He also said that the region should have new elections to its assembly.
The act invoked Article 155 of the Spanish constitution to take away autonomy from the Catalan region and replaced it with direct control from Madrid.
In all the 39 years of Spain’s constitution, this has never happened before. Article 155 can grant the Prime Minister of Spain the power to govern in any of the 17 regions in Spain which have their own home rule.
The unprecedented act means that government ministers from Madrid will replace the Catalan authority and grant them control directly over the media, financial affairs and the police.
Mariano Rajoy has said that he has no choice but to act in this way because the Catalan authorities have been “seeking confrontation” when they instituted the referendum for independence, nearly three weeks previously.
The Prime Minister’s actions were described as an “attack” both on democracy, as well as Catalonia and that the government was trying to “humiliate” the Catalans.
On Saturday, in Barcelona, the regional capital of Catalonia, protesters took to the streets in their tens of thousands to demand independence for Catalonia.
This protest was initially about two independence activists who had been detained, possibly on charges of sedition. But since the Prime Minister’s announcement, the protest turned into an independence rally.
Protesters held Catalan flags and beeped car horns in support of independence.
Later, the Vice President said via Twitter that the Prime Minister and Spain had “suspended democracy”.
He was not the only figure to condemn Rajoy’s move.
The major of Barcelona, who has called for a valid referendum before the declaration of independence of Catalonia, also said this was an “attack” on Catalonia.
The independence referendum sparked major violence and 1066 people were injured, needing medical attention in Catalonia on October 1st.
The heavy handed nature of the response to the referendum has been criticized by many sources and even the government themselves have announced an apology to those affected by it.
Since the referendum, the King of Spain has addressed the nation and declared his support regarding the curtailing of Catalonia’s autonomy.
He said that the country must attempt to solve the independence bid via democratic means and there should also be respect for the Spanish constitution.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has also shored up support of his government’s opposition, in order to give his move more strength.