The Catalonia parliament this afternoon. | Efe

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Following a vote in secret, the Catalonia parliament this afternoon (Friday) declared independence in the form of a republic. The vote, with seventy in favour, ten against and two abstentions, did not include the participation of the PSC (PSOE in Catalonia), the Partido Popular or Ciudadanos.

The parliament called on the Catalonia government to provide the necessary resources to issue citizens with documents proving Catalan nationality, to establish regulation for proceeding to a treaty on dual nationality with Spain and to create a central bank for the stability of the financial system.

Parliament also expressed its will to open negotiations with the Spanish state without preconditions to establish a regime of cooperation for the benefit of both parties.

Although the declaration is in effect a symbolic gesture as it will not be accepted by Spain or the international community, the moves by both sides take Spain's worst political crisis in four decades to a new level. Prime Minister Rajoy immediately called for calm and said the rule of law would be restored.

In the Senate where the debate was going on to trigger Article 155 and direct rule of Catalonia, Rajoy said: "Exceptional measures should only be adopted when no other remedy is possible. In my opinion there is no alternative. The only thing that can be done and should be done is to accept and comply with the law."

The Catalonia leadership was ignoring the law and making a mockery of democracy, he said. "We are facing a challenge unprecedented in our recent history."

The Senate, as had been expected, granted Rajoy the power to impose direct rule. Following this approval, the Spanish government cabinet met. The outcome was the dismissal of Carles Puigdemont, the dissolution of the Catalonia parliament, the removal of the head of the Mossos police, and the announcement of an election on 21 December.