In Spain, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Saturday he would impose direct rule over Catalonia, after leaders of the northeastern region held an independence referendum on October 1 and moved to secede from Spain. Rajoy’s order—pending the likely approval of the Spanish Senate—would see Catalan leaders fired and new elections held within six months. The announcement prompted outrage in Catalonia’s capital Barcelona, where nearly a half-million people poured into the streets in protest. The speaker of the Catalan Parliament called Rajoy’s order a “coup d’état.”
Carme Forcadell: “Today, Prime Minister Rajoy, in an enormous act of political irresponsibility, has crossed all limits. He has announced the execution of a de facto coup of state through which he intends to intervene and take control of the Catalan institutions—an attack against democracy and against the Europe of the 20th century with the goal of ending a democratically elected government.”
Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont called Rajoy’s decision the worst attack on Catalan institutions since General Franco’s dictatorship. Puigdemont said Catalonia’s Parliament would meet in the coming days to discuss their next steps, amid speculation he might unilaterally declare Catalan independence. We’ll have more on the crisis over Catalonia after headlines.