Parliament will meet on Thursday, a day before Spanish senate is expected to back measures against regional government
Photograph: Pau Barrena/AFP/Getty Images
The Catalan parliament will meet on Thursday to decide how to respond to the Spanish government’s unprecedented decision to impose direct rule, as speculation mounts that the regional president, Carles Puigdemont, could use the occasion to ask MPs to vote on a unilateral declaration on independence.
The plenary session will be held a day before the Spanish senate is expected to approve measures that would strip Puigdemont’s administration of its powers and transfer its functions to the relevant ministries in Madrid. The constitutional measures would require elections for the Catalan parliament to be held within six months.
On Monday the Catalan foreign affairs minister, Raül Romeva, said the region would not accept the Spanish government’s attempts to take control, and accused the EU of doing nothing.
“How can the European Union live with that situation [if this happens]?” Romeva told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “How can the EU democracy survive and how can they be credible if they allow this to happen? Because what I can tell you is that the people and the institutions in Catalonia will not let this happen.”
Spain’s deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, said the Spanish government would appoint its own representative to replace Puigdemont as soon as direct rule came into effect.
“They are president of the regional government and senior figures in that government because of the constitution,” she told Spain’s Onda Cero radio station. “They are not entrusted with that role by any divine authority.”
On Saturday Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, said his government was using article 155 of the constitution to “restore the rule of law, coexistence and the economic recovery and to ensure that elections could be held in normal circumstances”.
Puigdemont’s government has denounced the move as a “de facto coup d’etat” and insists the results of a recent referendum – in which 90% of participants voted for independence – mean it has a mandate to break away from Spain and become a sovereign republic.
Although the Catalan leader signed a declaration of independence on 10 October, he then proposed that its effects be suspended for two months to allow talks to find a way out of the impasse.
Puigdemont has described Madrid’s invocation of 155 as the worst attack on Catalonia’s institutions since General Franco’s dictatorship, and accused the Spanish government of “slamming the door” on his appeals for dialogue.
His government has refused calls to avert the crisis by dropping his independence plans and calling new elections before the article comes into force.
On Sunday a spokesman for the Catalan administration said fresh polls were “not on the table” and the government would fight “tooth and nail to defend Catalonia’s democratically elected institutions”.
Puigdemont’s junior coalition partner, the far-left, separatist Cup party, has urged a campaign of mass civil disobedience against what it called “the greatest aggression against the civil, individual and collective rights of the Catalan people” since Franco.
According to the Catalan government, about 2.3 million of Catalonia’s 5.3 million registered voters – 43% – took part in the referendum, and 770,000 votes were lost after Spanish police stepped in to try to halt the vote.