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Catalonia Declares Independence From Spain

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Just after the Catalan parliament declared independence from Spain on Oct. 27, the Spanish Senate approved a direct takeover of the region.

Members of Parliament voted 70-10 to make Catalonia into an independent state, according to BBC News.

The Court will likely deem the parliament's vote unconstitutional, as well. Shortly after the Parliament's announcement, the Spanish Senate voted to impose direct rule on the region, a move BBC News deemed as unprecedented.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said direct rule is necessary to bring "law, democracy and stability" back to Catalonia. Rajoy is expected to hold a cabinet meeting during which he will decide what a direct rule of Catalonia will look like.

He now has the power to fire Catalan leaders and take over the region's finances, police and public media, if he chooses.

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Separatists, or those who want Catalonia to secede from Spanish rule, say independence is the only path toward a better future.

"We have to declare independence even if we end up with less autonomy than we have now," Catalonia resident Eulalia Ara told The New York Times. "We can’t continue in this situation because we are being repressed by the Spanish state."

Yet those against secession preach unity and say an independent Catalonia would do more harm than good.

"You will go down in history for having fractured Catalonia and for sinking the institutions of Catalonia," Catalan lawmaker Carlos Carrizo told Parliament just before the vote. "Your job is not to promise unrealizable dreams but to improve the daily lives of people." 

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Spain is divided into 17 distinct regions, each with its own elected officials, according to BBC News. Catalonia has one of the highest levels of self-governing and its own parliament, president, police force and public broadcaster.

The Spanish government is responsible for fiscal policy, the armed forced and foreign affairs. The government can also interfere in Catalan policies that are seen to be clashing with the rest of the region.

In early October, Catalan voters backed an independence movement in a referendum that the Spanish Constitutional Court is likely to deem illegal. The vote took place without legal guarantees and was marked by violent clashes between the Spanish state police and hopeful voters, leaving hundreds injured.

Less than 43 percent of voters participated in the referendum, which backed the independence movement by 90 percent. Many citizens who were against secession were said to have stayed away from the polls.

Sources: BBC News (2), The New York TimesThe New York Times via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / Featured Image: Government of Catalonia / Embedded Images: Global Panorama/Flickr, Rob Shenk/Flickr

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