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Catalonia independence rally

Spain's lawmakers voted to seize control of Catalonia after it declared independence

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Spain’s Senate on Friday authorized the government to seize direct control of the contested Catalonia region, according to The New York Times.

The Times reported that the move came just after Catalan lawmakers declared their region’s independence from Spain.

The pair of votes mark a major escalation of Spain’s territorial conflict, and it marks the European nation’s biggest constitutional crisis since implementing democracy in 1978.

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The Senate voted 214 to 47 to invoke Article 155 of Spain’s Constitution, which gives Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy a slate of special powers to stop Catalonia’s independence push.

The measure will take effect after it is published in the Spanish government’s register, a move which is anticipated Friday evening.

Rajoy said in a speech before the Senate’s vote Friday that he had “no alternative” due to Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his separatist cabinet’s actions.

“[It’s] contrary to the normal behavior in any democratic country like ours,” he said of Catalan leadership’s moves.

Al-Jazeera on Friday reported that 70 Catalan parliament members voted to declare independence from Spain that afternoon.

Ten other lawmakers voted against the move during a secret vote in Barcelona, while two more cast blank ballots.

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The names of those who voted favorably for independence were withheld as Spain’s attorney general had pledged to charge those who did so with “rebellion.”

The Times reported that some Catalan lawmakers called Friday’s vote “historic” or “happy,” while others referred to it as “tragic” and a major breach of Spain’s Constitution.

Separatist lawmakers in Catalonia voted in early September to hold a binding referendum on independence on Oct. 1 in what was a vital step toward statehood.

Catalans who voted overwhelmingly approved of independence, but the referendum took place with no legal guarantees and with most who opposed the move refraining from voting.

The referendum was sullied by clashes between Catalan citizens and Spanish national police that left hundreds injured, including some law officers.

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