MADRID (Reuters) - The Spanish government will dismiss Catalonia’s secessionist leadership and force the region into a new election, it decided on Saturday, unprecedented steps it said were needed to prevent the region breaking away.
Below are details of the powers the Spanish government plans to assume for a maximum six months before regional elections are held as set out in a proposal to the upper house Senate.
The measures were formulated under a constitutional provision never before invoked in Spain’s 40 years of democracy.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is asking for authorisation to sack the regional government including president Carles Puigdemont and his deputy Oriol Junqueras, high-profile figures in the independence drive who organised a popular vote on secession on Oct. 1 in defiance of Madrid.
Central government ministries will take over the regional administration until calling fresh elections within six months of direct rule coming into force.
On Saturday, Rajoy said he wanted to convene a vote “as soon as we get back to institutional normality”.
The Catalan parliament will retain a representative role, but the government will operate under the supervision of bodies chosen or created for the purpose by Madrid.
The new administrators will take control of the Mossos d’Esquadra regional police force, which has become embroiled in the controversy over the independence bid after allegedly failing to act to stop the referendum or protect national police who were drafted in to provide extra security.
The Mossos, whose chief is under investigation on suspicion of sedition, will have to act on direct orders from their new bosses. If deemed necessary, Mossos officers may be replaced by national police.
The Economy Ministry has already increased its control over regional finances, to block the use of state funds to organise the secession bid, and started paying directly for essential services. Under the new proposal, Madrid keeps financial control.
Widely-watched Catalan public television TV3 will come under central control. Madrid’s proposal to the Senate says this will ensure the information transmitted is “true, objective and balanced, in line with political, social and cultural pluralism, and territorial balance”.
The Senate, where Rajoy’s People’s Party has a majority, will vote on the proposal on Oct. 27. The opposition Socialist and Ciudadanos parties are backing Rajoy.
After the measures are approved, they can be activated immediately or put on hold to be implemented in the future. Puigdemont could call an election himself before the government’s plan comes into action, in which case direct rule would likely not be implemented.
Reporting by Isla Binnie and Tomas Cobos; Editing by Julien Toyer and Ros Russell