Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that the central government has moved to take the first step towards suspending home rule in Catalonia on Wednesday morning.

"Cabinet has agreed to notify the Catalan government [so that it may] confirm if it has declared independence", he said.

On Tuesday, Catalan First Minister Carles Puigdemont "assumed the mandate" for Catalonia "to become" a republic, but then immediately asked the Catalan Parliament to suspend its effects, leaving the country wondering what he had really meant.

"In the reply to the notification", said Mr. Rajoy: "Mr. Puigdemont has the opportunity to respond to the clamour of petitions made to him to return to the law".

"This notification is necessary when it comes to activating Article 155 of the Constitution", he added.

The formal notification and requirement to reply is the first step outlined in Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which is how the central government in Madrid would suspend home rule or regional government in one of Spain's 17 autonomous communities.

That article has never been used and only contains the following two points.

"1. If an autonomous community [Spanish region] were not to fulfil the duties imposed upon it under the Constitution or other laws, or were to act in a manner that gravely attacked the general interest of Spain, the government, having first notified the First Minister of the autonomous community and, in if no reply were received, with an absolute majority in the Senate, may adopt the measures necessary to oblige that [region] to forcibly comply with said duties or to protect the aforementioned general interest."

"2. To execute the measures foreseen in the previous section, the government may give instructions to all of the authorities in the autonomous communities."

"With the decision adopted today, the government wants to offer certainty to Spaniards, especially Catalans", said the Prime Minister.

"It is urgent to put an end to the situation in Catalonia."

It will now be up to the Catalan Parliament and Carles Puigdemont to reply to the central government's formal notification.

In his statement on Wednesday morning, Mr. Rajoy did not set a deadline for the reply.

Full explanation: Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.

Published: 2:02 pm, Oct 11 2017 (link)

Podemos Criticises Government Decision On Catalan Home Rule

Podemos spokeswoman Irene Montero criticised the Spanish government's decision to begin the process to suspend home rule in Catalonia on Wednesday.

She said there was "no response firmer than listening and dialogue", labelling the use of Article 155 "a historic mistake".

Ms. Montero also criticised the PSOE: "This is the end of the Socialist Party that believes in plurinationality".

Podemos has defended a position of dialogue and a legal referendum during the Catalan crisis.

Published: 1:44 pm, Oct 11 2017 (link)

Ciudadanos "Happy" With Government Move To Suspend Home Rule

Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera said on Wednesday that he was "happy" Mariano Rajoy had finally moved to begin the process of suspending home rule in Catalonia: "We all know Puigdemont is not going to give up".

"The Constitution must be defended", he added, but said time will tell what specific measures the suspension of home rule will involve.

"I hope they turn back, but I believe that will not happen and that we will have to apply Article 155."

Ciudadanos wants new regional elections in Catalonia—where they are the leading opposition party—to be the outcome of the Article 155 process, and Mr. Rivera reaffirmed that desire on Wednesday.

Published: 1:14 pm, Oct 11 2017 (link)

PSOE Backs Rajoy On Catalan Home Rule, Announces Constitutional Reform Plan

Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) leader Pedro Sánchez backed the central government on its plan to begin process of suspending home rule in Catalonia on Wednesday morning. That process had "obviously" begun, he said.

He also announced the Prime Minister had agreed to undertake a process of constitutional reform in Spain, in six months time, to deal with the territorial organisation of the country "and even the Senate".

Mr. Sánchez said that many people felt "relief" after Mr. Puigdemont did not explicitly declare the Catalan republic on Tuesday but also confusion over what the Catalan leader actually said.

He said the PSOE shares Mr. Rajoy's desire to clarify what Mr. Puigdemont actually said: "black on white: what happened yesterday".

The Socialist Party will "always" back the rule of law, in a "measured, proportionate" way, to resolve the separatist crisis. Spaniards and Catalans "deserve to know if he has declared independence or not".