Spain Set To Trigger ‘Nuclear Option’ Against Catalonia’s Independence

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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The Spanish government announced its intention to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy Thursday after the region failed to meet a crucial deadline.

The Catalan government had until Thursday morning to explain its plans for independence from the country. Catalonia claims the results from a banned referendum Oct. 1 have given it the right to move forward with independence.

Spain will now go for the “nuclear option” of enacting direct rule over the region. The government looks set to trigger Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution to suspend Catalonia’s status as an autonomous region. The move would be unprecedented since Spain returned to democracy in the late 1970s.

The Catalan government would have between 24 and 48 hours to reverse its course or fall under Madrid’s control.

“Article 155 allows for many possibilities, with the limit being a total suspension of autonomy,” Josep Maria Castellà, a constitutional law professor at the University of Barcelona, told BBC. “Other options include the suspension of certain competencies, such as security. The important thing for the state will be to ensure control of ports, airports, communication centers and borders by forces of the Spanish state.”

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has meanwhile threatened to move up plans for a formal declaration of independence in the regional parliament.

“If the government continues to impede dialogue and continues with the repression, the Catalan parliament could proceed, if it is considered opportune, to vote on a formal declaration of independence,” Puigdemont said in a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

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