On Friday, the parliament of Catalonia voted that they will declare independence. However, on Saturday Catalonia was deprived of their autonomy when the Spanish government took over its government. The interior ministry also took over the Catalan police force, after they fired the senior police officers. On Friday, Mariano Rajoy, the Prime Minister of Spain declared Mr Puigdemont’s removal as Catalan leader and the regional parliament’s disbandment. He also called snap regional elections. Carles Puigdemont, in a TV message to the Catalonians, which he had pre-recorded stated his condemnation of the expulsion of their autonomy and made a promise that he will continue to go forward working in building a free country. Catalonia’s control was handed over to Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, who is the Deputy Prime Minister of Spain by Mr Rajoy. In Madrid a rally was held for unity in Spain as well as the constitution, whilst people were demonstrating well into the nighttime, against and for independence. Mr Puigdemont said in his TV-message that Friday was a day with both civic and democratic sensibility, referring to the independence declaration. He described the actions of the central government to be contradictory to the expressed will of the country’s citizens. He added that in democracies parliaments remove or choose presidents.
Reactions and Catalonia’s powers
The independence declaration was celebrated by thousands of people on Barcelona’s streets, the regional capital of Catalonia. It was reported that it was the same crowds which cheered for every Yes vote by the MP’s of Catalonia, who booed Mr Rajoy when his announcement was made. Pro-unity protesters were also present in Barcelona where they waved Spanish flags whilst they denounced the independence of Catalonia. Before Spain’s takeover of Catalonia, they had a high level of self-governance. They had their own parliament, public broadcaster, police force, president and government, who were removed. In a lot of policy areas, the Catalans had a variety of powers, ranging from environment and culture to transportation, communications, public safety and commerce. However, fiscal policy, foreign affairs and armed forces, were solely the responsibility Spain’s government. Mr Puigdemont ignored warnings from Madrid to cancel the independence declaration after he signed it, after the referendum held on 1 October. The implementation was delayed to give time for negotiations with Spain’s government. Catalonia poses to be one of Spain’s most distinctive and richest regions, with a great level of autonomy. Historical grievances exist, especially the way in which Catalonia was treated under the regime of General Franco. Catalans were divided about independence.