After nearly a month of back-and-forth threats between Spain’s central government in Madrid and the Catalan government in Barcelona, Catalonia has declared independence after its parliament voted today (Friday) 70-10, in favor.

Pro-independence rallies in Barcelona, today

Pro-independence rallies in Barcelona, today Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

The Catalan parliament voted today (Friday) to declare independence from Spain with a vote of 70-10, in favor. During the parliamentary discussions prior to the vote, earlier today, some members of parliament walked out of the chamber in protest of independence.

Immediately after the dramatic vote, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy stated via Twitter that the rule of law would be restored in Catalonia and asked for the public to remain calm. Shortly thereafter, Spain’s senate in Madrid voted to trigger Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution allowing the central government to impose direct rule over Catalonia.

Catalonia's parliament voted 70-10 in favor of independence

Catalonia’s parliament voted 70-10 in favor of independence Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

With Article 155’s application, Madrid will be granted the power to use all necessary tools to restore order in the autonomous region. Spain has stated in the past that it views a move to declare Catalan independent as illegal. 

“The people are not happy with Madrid,” a celebrating Barcelona resident told Sky News. “We are cut off from them. Their law does not concern us, I do not feel Spanish. The Spanish government is the one that is acting illegally.”

The European Commission refused to comment on the decision. However, head of the European Council Donald Tusk stated that the EU will continue to deal only with Spain. “For EU nothing changes,” said Tusk. “Spain remains our only interlocutor. I hope the Spanish government favors force of argument, not the argument of force.”

Carles Puigdemont

Carles Puigdemont Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

Today’s declaration came after Catalan President Carles Puigdemont’s announcements yesterday in which he initially stated he would dissolve the regional parliament and hold a snap election, only to retract the decision hour later.  According to Puigdemont, he has not received sufficient guarantees from Madrid that such an election would stop the main government from suspending the region’s autonomy.