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Catalonia Crisis: Spain Plans For Elections As Independence Row Grows

mediaitemSpain’s conservative government has agreed with the socialist opposition to hold regional elections in Catalonia in January, the socialists say.

The elections are part of a package of measures being put in place to suspend the region’s autonomy, as its leader threatens to declare independence.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will announce measures to impose direct rule after a cabinet meeting on Saturday.

A referendum, outlawed by Spain, was held in Catalonia on 1 October.

Of the 43% of Catalans who reportedly voted, 90% were in favour of independence. Most anti-independence voters boycotted the ballot.

Mr Rajoy’s Popular Party (PP) has not confirmed the agreement to press for a regional vote, announced by the socialist party (PSOE).

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels on Friday, Mr Rajoy said the measures to impose direct rule would have the backing of the PSOE and the centrist party Ciudadanos.

PSOE politician Carmen Calvo announced the agreement to hold regional elections in an interview on national television on Friday.

She appealed to Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to endorse the elections. Mr Puigdemont has refused calls from the Spanish government to abandon his secessionist campaign.

Catalonia’s government will be dissolved ahead of the vote, which is part of a package of extraordinary measures being imposed on the region.

The government has said it will trigger Article 155 of the constitution, which allows Madrid to impose direct rule in a crisis but has never been invoked in its nearly 40-year history.

The full list of measures will be drawn up during Saturday’s cabinet meeting. Spain’s Senate, controlled by the PP and its allies, would then have to approve the list.

Other measures may include taking control of Catalonia’s regional police force.

Article 155 does not give the government the power to fully suspend autonomy, and it will not be able to deviate from the list of measures.

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