SPAIN has sacked the Catalan government and called a snap election after the region’s parliament voted in favour of becoming a republic.
Mr Rajoy called an emergency Cabinet meeting and used its new powers to immediately dismiss the Catalan regional government and curtail the powers of its parliament in Barcelona.
A majority of senators gave Mr Rajoy the go-ahead to apply unprecedented measures including sacking Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont and his Cabinet. It also authorised him to curtail Catalan parliamentary powers.
The vote came shortly after the Catalan parliament itself voted in Barcelona to declare the region’s independence and to begin forming a new state in a ballot boycotted by opposition deputies.
Julian Assange has spoken out on the issue, saying Catalonia now faces a “Gandhian struggle”.
Mr Assange, the Australian founder of WikiLeaks, has been a vocal supporter of the Catalan independence push.
“An enormous defining Gandhian struggle will now commence in Catalonia to secure their declaration of independence against the full weight of the Spanish state, from the use of force, to financial interdiction, censorship, computer hacking, intelligence, propaganda and diplomacy,” he tweeted following the Catalan vote.
“Spain failed to adapt to its diminishing leverage over Catalonia by moving towards a confederation or otherwise being more attractive to Catalans.”
Prime Minister Rajoy has called for calm after the Catalan vote passed by 70-10 votes with two blank ballots.
“I call on all Spaniards to remain calm. The rule of law will restore legality to Catalonia,” he said.
Thousands of people gathered outside Catalonia’s parliament building in support of the region’s independence bid cheered and danced after the parliament passed a motion saying it wanted to establish an independent Catalan Republic.
The crowds had watched the voting process and the counting live on big screens.
Regional President Carles Puigdemont and Vice President Oriol Junqueras exchanged congratulatory embraces and handshakes after the vote.
Most opposition politicians had left the chamber in protest moments before the vote.