[dropcap]C[/dropcap]atalonia’s parliament voted Friday to declare independence from Spain and proclaim a republic, just as Madrid is poised to impose direct rule on the semi-autonomous region to stop it in its tracks.
A motion declaring independence was approved with 70 votes in favour, 10 against and two abstentions, with Catalan opposition MPs walking out of the 135-seat chamber before the vote in protest at a declaration unlikely to be given official recognition by Madrid and abroad.
“Yes. We have won freedom to build a new country, Oriol Junqueras, Catalan vice-president and leader of the left-wing pro-independence ERC party, tweeted.
But it will be a painful blow to the many Catalans who are against secession. The regional parliament was half empty for the vote after anti-independence Ciudadanos, the Catalan Socialist Party and Popular Party MPs left in protest before the secret ballot.
Madrid is already preparing to activate a direct rule provision in the Spanish constitution as soon as this afternoon. Shortly after the Catalan vote, Spain’s Senate gave the central authority to apply article 155 of the Spanish constitution revoking Catalan autonomy.