[HOT] – Article 155: The ‘Nuclear Option’ That Could Let Spain Seize Catalonia
BARCELONA, Spain – Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is holding a cabinet in the United States. meeting on Saturday to decide what measures to take under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution – a large and powerful tool that has never been used before – that could allow it to take full administrative control of Catalonia with independent spirit.
Mr. Rajoy then stated that he would use Article 155 to oust the Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, after Mr. Puigdemont refused to withdraw his secessionist plan and warned that lawmakers separatists of Catalonia could vote a unilateral declaration of independence
The Spaniards, especially the Catalans, will discover Article 155, just as British citizens are learning the importance of Article 50 of the previously obscure Lisbon Treaty, the exit mechanism of the European Union.
Like several other provisions of the 1978 Spanish Constitution, Article 155 was modeled on the text of the Federal Constitution of what was then West Germany.
It allows the central government to suspend the autonomy of the region under specific conditions. But it is unclear and has already sparked a debate among legal experts on exactly how the government can suspend or withdraw powers currently held by the Catalan authorities.
The article allows the government to intervene in one of the Spanish regions its autonomous government "does not fulfill the obligations imposed on it by the Constitution or other laws, or acts in a manner seriously damaging the general interests of Spain. "
This is an instrument so wide that its use was considered only once before, in 1989, when Felipe González, the Socialist Prime Minister, threatened to exercise it against the Canary Islands to force him to comply with tax obligations.
The second part of Article 155 calls on the government to "give instructions" to restore constitutional order, which is why legal experts are now debating how the government of Mr. Rajoy could use Article 155 to regain power in Catalonia if
Given the lack of precedent, however, Mr. Rajoy begins with a blank canvas. It could make article 155 as wide or as narrow as it wishes, and maintain its measures as long as it deems necessary.
The options that seem to be at stake are to remove the political power of Catalonia. including Mr. Puigdemont and other separatist legislators, and dissolve the Catalan parliament to force early elections.
Mr. Rajoy and his government could also suspend other Catalan leaders through the public administration of the region, from the direction of the Catalan autonomous police to the direction of public television and of Catalan public radio.
After his cabinet meeting, Mr. Rajoy must follow a parliamentary procedure that culminates in a plenary vote in the Senate. It is only then that it will be able to implement emergency measures related to Article 155.
The measures proposed by Mr. Rajoy will be reviewed by a Senate committee. Mr. Puigdemont will also have the opportunity to defend his position and defend himself against them
Finally, the full Senate will vote on the measures, but such a vote should not take place until the 26th or October 27th.
Are the measures likely to pass?
Since the end of 2016, Mr. Rajoy has been in charge of a minority government, but his people's party holds the majority of seats in the Senate, the upper house of the Spanish Parliament and the one in charge of approving section 155
Mr. Rajoy is therefore already guaranteed to obtain the approval of the Senate. In recent days, however, it has pushed socialists and other parties to support its use of Article 155 as the best way to share political responsibility and build a common front to defend the Constitution and national sovereignty.
Ciudadanos, a party that was founded to oppose Catalan secessionism, is Rajoy's main parliamentary ally. Since the escalation of the crisis last month, he lobbied for Article 155.
The Socialists also stated that they supported Article 155 but they were ambiguous as to how it should be used. José Luis Ábalos, a top socialist leader, said Thursday that the party would support Mr. Rajoy – as long as the prime minister would make "very very limited" and short use of Article 155, and that it would retain somehow "autonomy" Catalonia
Among the main Spanish parties, only Podemos of the far left is against the use of Article 155, which he considers it a disproportionate answer. Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos, wants a Spanish referendum on the future of Catalonia
Will there be new elections in Catalonia?
Almost certainly yes. Mr Rajoy said his goal was to hold new elections in Catalan within six months, in order to lift the measures taken under Article 155 as soon as possible.
But we do not know who will summon them – and if they will help end the conflict.
The government of Rajoy and other party leaders in Madrid urged Puigdemont to hold new elections rather than implement his secessionist plan, which only served to nothing.
Puigdemont could now try to anticipate Mr. Rajoy's movement by calling for new elections in Catalonia himself, on his own terms.
Whatever the case may be, it is not clear that the elections would significantly change the Catalan political landscape. A new vote can only strengthen the separatist parties. The Spanish government and courts could try to ban parties that advocate secession, but it is also possible that part of the Catalan electorate will boycott the vote, further blurring the waters.
Are there powers other than section 155? [Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, spokesman for the Spanish government, said on Thursday that Madrid was ready to use "all means within its reach to restore legality and constitutional order as quickly as possible".]
Article155MRajoydisposed 'abatteried' other means to stop the national economic crisis by starting from article 11 of the Constitution which could be used in the emergency alert and headquarters (loimartiale)
In 2015, Mr. Rajoy's government also revised a national security law to "guarantee the defense of Spain" and its constitutional values. While Mr Rajoy did not present the new law as a buffer against Catalan separatism, it could nevertheless be used to replace very quickly the main Catalan leaders, without asking the approval of the Senate.
After the decisions of Mr. Rajoy government, the Spanish judiciary could intervene more energetically and even order the arrest of Mr. Puigdemont and others for sedition. Earlier, a judge of the Spanish national court had ordered jail without bail for two separatist leaders, pending a sedition trial.
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