Spain’s Senate approves powers to remove Catalan government

Spain's Senate has voted to approve measures that will allow the government to intervene in Catalan autonomy and remove its devolved executive after the region made a unilateral declaration of independence.

Spain's Senate approves powers to remove Catalan government
The Madrid Senate passed the measures less than an hour after Catalonia declared independence. Photo: Oscar del Pozo/AFP

Spanish MPs passed the measures with 214 votes in favour, 47 against and 1 abstention. 

“We have to take the measures necessary to re-establish the rule of law. The state will act in a measured and effective way as it has until now,” Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy said.

The vote in the upper house of Spain's parliament, where the PP holds a majority, was expected to go in Rajoy's favour. It came less than an hour after Catalonia's regional parliament passed a resolution declaring independence.

READ ALSO: Catalan parliament makes declaration of independence from Spain

Earlier on Friday Rajoy had appealed to the Senate for their approval of the article 155 measures, designed to make rebelling regions fall back in line and uncharted territory in the country.

“I ask your support for the agreement reached by the cabinet last Saturday. The situation is exceptional and the consequences very serious for many people,” he said in his speech, calling the region’s secessionist push “a continuous process of anti-democratic decisions”.

READ ALSO: Approve measures to stop Catalan independence, Rajoy asks

EU President Donald Tusk reacted to the tumultuous Friday afternoon by insisting that Madrid “remains our only interlocutor”, adding that he hoped the Spanish government “favours force of argument, not argument of force”.

Rajoy will hold a crisis cabinet meeting on Catalonia at 5pm local time, in which he is expected to use his new powers to dissolve the region's government.