Since the October 1st, 2017 Catalan independence referendum, Generalitat President, Carles Puigdemont, has set aside his calls for immediate independence to instead request dialogue with Madrid. After an initial extension until the October 16th, 2017 deadline for Catalonia drop all claims of independence, Madrid has moved to suspend all regional autonomy in Catalonia.
During times of national crisis, Spain’s 1978 Constitution allows Madrid to nationalize regional institutions under Article 155 in order to preserve the unity of the Spanish state. That is exactly what Prime Minister Rajoy plans to do going forward. The legislative article gives Rajoy a plethora of potential tools in his arsenal: he can nationalize the Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalonia’s 17,000 strong national guard), dissolve the Puigdemont government and call for renewed elections, or disband the Generalitat and centralize power in Madrid.
According to most recent reports, Rajoy and his supporters plan to at least remove Puigdemont and his entire cabinet from office and possible even incarcerate them. This would be in line with the current direction of events, as two of Catalonia’s top ministers now find themselves in federal prison.
The next several days will certainly determine how aggressively Article 155 is employed as Rajoy weighs the political consequences of simply removing Puigdemont and his party from power against the option of going fully nuclear and beginning federal administration of Catalonia and its regional institutions. It seems most likely that Rajoy will dissolve the Generalitat and call for elections in six months time.
Overall, Rajoy seems to be enjoying increased support for these measures as the King Felipe VI has in an unusually public role again condemned Catalonia’s nationalist sentiments and thousands of unionists plan to take the streets of Barcelona and other Spanish cities on Sunday, October 22, 2017.