Catalans declare independence as Madrid imposes direct rule
21:20, Friday, 27 October, 2017
The Catalan regional parliament has voted to declare independence from Spain, while the Spanish parliament has approved direct rule over the region. Catalan MPs easily approved the move amid an opposition boycott. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had told senators direct rule was needed to return "law, democracy and stability" to Catalonia. The crisis began earlier this month when Catalonia held a controversial referendum on independence. The Catalan government said that of the 43% of potential voters who took part, 90% were in favour of independence. But Spain's Constitutional Court had ruled the vote illegal. What happened in the Catalan parliament? A motion declaring independence was approved on Friday with 70 in favour, 10 against, and two abstentions in the 135-seat chamber. The measure calls for the transfer of legal powers from Spain to an independent Catalonia. But the Spanish Constitutional Court is likely to declare it illegal, while the US, UK, Germany and France all expressed support for Spanish unity. European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU "doesn't need any more cracks, more splits". Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has called for supporters to "maintain the momentum" in a peaceful manner. Crowds have been celebrating the declaration of independence and Spanish flags have been removed from some regional government buildings in Catalonia.