Catalonia's regional parliament passed a motion Friday to establish an independent Catalan Republic, voting to secede from Spain after an acrimonious debate that saw opposition lawmakers walk out in protest before the vote, the AP reports. The vote in Barcelona was approved with 70 in favor of independence, 10 against, and two blank ballots in Catalonia's 135-member parliament. Shortly after the vote, Spain's Senate authorized the government to apply constitutional measures to take control of the government of Catalonia. A majority of senators gave Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy the go-ahead Friday to apply unprecedented measures including sacking Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont and his cabinet. It also authorized him to curtail Catalan parliamentary powers.
The Spanish government must now decide how and when to apply the measures. It says they are temporary and aimed at restoring legality in the northeastern region that is an economic powerhouse in Spain. "I call on all Spaniards to remain calm. The rule of law will restore legality to Catalonia," Rajoy said on Twitter. Separatist lawmakers in the regional parliament erupted in applause and chants when the chamber's main speaker announced the passing of the motion. Outside, thousands who had gathered near the parliament building cheered, with some dancing and raising glasses after seeing the vote and the counting live on a giant screen. No country in the world has expressed support for independence for Catalonia, a region in northeastern Spain that has 7.5 million people.
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