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Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has announced the removal from office of the Catalan government using article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, the first such action in the history of a European democracy. This will be followed by the calling of new elections to the Catalan parliament within six months. Rajoy made the announcement in a press conference following an extraordinary cabinet meeting this Saturday. Among the other measures announced are the limitation of the legislative powers of the Catalan Parliament and control being taken over the Catalan executive.

According to the prime minister, the ministers of the Spanish central government will initially take over their respective portfolios. He deflected a question from El Nacional about what would happen if the Catalan leaders didn’t leave office, saying that they couldn’t ignore “that which is an obligation”. “I understand clearly that one of my obligations is to follow the law. The matter I’ve found facing me I haven’t seen in many years”, he said on the independence plans of the Catalan government.

Secondly, Rajoy will call Catalan elections, saying that the wish is to do so “as soon as constitutional normality is recovered”. “It’s what common sense tells us, to open a new phase in which the law is respected and peoples’ rights and the law are preserved”, said Rajoy about the measure, which is supported by two of Spain’s other largest parties, PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) and Ciudadanos (Citizens). Spanish government sources say that, in the new elections, Catalan voters will again be able to choose from among the candidates nominated by the different parties, as normal.

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