Spain’s plans for rebel Catalonia: What’s next?

MADRID

Spain’s conservative government will seek authorisation this week from the Senate, where it holds a majority, to enforce direct rule on Catalonia, whose regional government is threatening to declare unilateral independence.

These are the steps until Madrid assumes control of the wealthy southeastern region, most likely on Saturday:

MONDAY

Spain’s political parties designated 27 senators to study how the central government could take over the running of Catalonia under Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, a never-before-used provision designed to rein in rebel regions.

The measures proposed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government include removing the entire Catalan regional government.

Its functions would then be taken over by national ministries.

The central government also wants to take control of the Catalan police force and replace the heads of its public broadcaster.

The special committee has 15 members from Rajoy’s Popular Party, six from the main opposition Socialists, and two from far-left party Podemos and its allies.

The remaining four senators came from regional parties, including two representing Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont’s separatist “Together for Yes” coalition.

TUESDAY

The Senate committee will be formally constituted at 1.30pm (1130 GMT).

It is expected to send a formal notice to Puigdemont to inform him of the measures the central government wants to take, and give him an opportunity to respond.

He can reply in writing, send a representative, or go to Madrid himself.

A Catalan government spokesman said Puigdemont is mulling his options.

THURSDAY

The Senate committee will debate the government’s proposed measures.

Debate starts at 5pm (1500 GMT).

At the same time, the Catalan regional parliament will hold a full session to weigh its response to the central government.

FRIDAY

Spain’s 266-member Senate will convene a special session to debate the mooted measures under Article 155.

Rajoy’s Popular Party has 149 seats in Spain’s upper house of parliament and the measures are sure to pass.

But the central government could still withdraw its request if the Catalan government calls elections for a new regional parliament, agrees to respect the Spanish constitution.

The main opposition Socialists, which backs the government’s use of Article 155, has also urged the Catalan government to call elections.

SATURDAY

The measures approved by the Senate are published in the government gazette, making them official.

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