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Crowd in Barcelona erupts in cheering as Catalan parliament declares independence

Crowd in Barcelona erupts in cheering as Catalan parliament declares independence

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has pledged to quash the separatists, and moves to take over the Catalan administration are expected to begin at the weekend. Thousands of pro-secession supporters gathered near the parliament building in anticipation.

Despite the declaration of independence, the Catalan president and his cabinet may find themselves out of a job by Saturday morning.

Rajoy said he was calling for exceptional measures as there was no other choice and "law, democracy and stability" still needed to be returned to Catalonia.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department said it backed Madrid's efforts to keep Spain united and Catalonia was an integral part of the country.

The crisis has now reached a new and possibly unsafe level as independence supporters have called for a campaign of disobedience. He called the parliament's independence vote "illegal" and a "delinquent act".

The crisis reached a fever pitch on October 1 when the Catalan referendum on independence took place. Many had already suffered too much, he said, and the uncertainty was further driving businesses out of the region.

But while fiercely protective of their language, culture and autonomy - restored at the end of the 1939-1975 dictatorship of Francisco Franco - Catalans are deeply divided on independence. They have the force.

The irony, of course, is that a few weeks ago no statistics pointed to the fact that an independence vote would win. He said he hoped the Spanish government "favors force of argument, not argument of force".

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"Tensions are likely to rise significantly over the coming days", Antonio Barroso of Teneo Intelligence said in a note.

Spain's central government opposes the independence bid and it is readying measures to take over control of the northeastern region. "This increases the risk of violent clashes with the police".

Meanwhile, the Catalan regional parliament is holding a vote, on unilaterally declaring independence from the rest of Spain. "Moderate people have reached this point because it was impossible to make an agreement with Spain", she said. "They are approaching a cliff. with consequences that are hard to predict right now", says Joan Barcelo, a researcher on political conflicts at Washington University in St. Louis.

Lawmakers from members of three national parties - the People's Party, the Socialists and Ciudadanos - walked out before the vote. "Now more than ever", Puigdemont said on Twitter. The conservative leader, who received sustained applause before and after his speech, told the chamber that Spain was facing a challenge not seen in its recent history.

According to the Spanish authorities, this measure stems from the Catalan government's refusal to obey by its legal liabilities.

In Brussels, the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said the independence vote changed nothing and the EU would only deal with the central government in Madrid.

Catalonia represents a fifth of Spain's gross domestic product.


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