A Catalan separatist party has called for “massive civil disobedience” if the central government in Madrid follows through on its threat to impose direct rule on Catalonia for failing to renounce its independence bid. The left-wing Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), which props up the minority Catalan regional government, lambasted Madrid’s decision on Saturday to invoke Article 155 as the worst act of aggression against the Catalan people since the Franco dictatorship. The Spanish Senate will meet on Friday to vote on the government’s unprecedented decision to invoke Article 155. If the vote passes it would paves the way for the competencies of the Catalan government to be taken over by Madrid and the Catalan president to be removed from office, triggering fresh regional elections to be held within the next six months.
In an interview with Onda Cera Radio, Spain’s deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, implied that the Madrid was also considering intervening in Catalan public TV and radio broadcasting to address a perceived separatist bias. “What we ask is that (the Catalan TV channel) TV3 complies with its own rules. Our only intention with the public media is that they return to neutrality,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Catalan parliament has announced it will meet the day before the Senate vote to discuss its response to the invoking of Article 155. Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has already ruled out the course of action proposed by moderates to preempt Madrid by calling for regional elections, leaving many to speculate that he may ask MPs to vote on a unilateral declaration of independence. In the days after the disputed independence referendum on October 1, Puigdemont said that the result of the vote, which returned 90 percent in favour of separation, gave the government a mandate to break away from Spain and form a sovereign republic. However he said the declaration of independence would be suspended for two months to allow time to negotiate with Madrid. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy demanded that independence be taken off the table in order for any talks to go ahead, which Puigdemont refused to do, prompting Rajoy to invoke Article 155 on Saturday and resulting in the current impasse.