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Spanish region's call for direct rule in Catalonia roundly rejected

Voices across political spectrum pour scorn on resolution to suspend self-rule passed by regional assembly in Extremadura

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18 January 2019 12:20 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

A motion passed in the assembly of the Spanish region of Extremadura calling for Catalan self-rule to be once again suspended has caused something of a political backlash in Catalonia.

The parliament of the region in the west of the Iberian Peninsula voted on Thursday for a "firm" and "broad" application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, imposing direct rule on Catalonia from Madrid.

Yet, the Spanish government ruled out using Article 155 any time soon, as it would "undermine" Catalonia's self-rule and would go against the Spanish constitution.

"Nobody who has really thought about it would call for the application of Article 155 under the current circumstances," said Isabel Celáa, the spokesperson of the Spanish government.

The article was triggered for the first time in October 2017, following an independence referendum and a declaration of independence in the Catalan parliament. Direct rule from Madrid lasted until a new government was formed in Catalonia, in May last year.

The parliamentary initiative was put forward by the conservative People's Party, and passed with the votes of the other unionist groups, the Socialists and Ciudadanos.

  • "I don't think it is a good thing for regions to spend their time criticizing each other"

    Miquel Iceta · Catalan Socialists' leader

The text of the motion calls for the defense of Spain's unity and calls on the ruling Socialist party in Madrid to abandon its "bilateral" relationship with the Catalan government. It also calls for Spanish to be the only working language in schools around Spain.

Motion "sad and lamentable," says ERC spokesman

Reactions to the motion were not long in coming, with the spokesman for the pro-independence ERC party in Madrid, Joan Tardà, calling the initiative a "sad and lamentable expression of Catalanophobia."

Meanwhile, Catalan vice president, Pere Aragonès, said that "the restriction of rights and freedoms in Catalonia is a testing ground for restricting them in the whole of Spain; today Catalonia, tomorrow Extremadura."

Catalan Socialists reject resolution

Even the leader of the Socialists in Catalonia, Miquel Iceta, rejected the initiative, despite the unionist stance of his party: "I don't think it is a good thing for regions to spend their time criticizing each other," he said.

A government response came from presidency minister, Elsa Artadi, who said the resolution pointed to an internal "struggle" in Spain's Socialist party. The spokeswoman also called it "extremely serious" and said it does not help the Spanish executive's efforts to persuade the pro-independence parties to support the 2019 budget.

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