Spain on Friday fired Catalonia’s regional government, dissolved the Catalan parliament and called a snap election in the region for December 21, Reuters reports.
The move came hours after the parliament of Catalonia declared independence, leading the Spanish government to impose direct rule over the region, stripping the region of its autonomy.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called for calm and said the rule of law would be restored in Catalonia, as crowd of more than 2,000 independence supporters gathered in the Ciutadella Park outside the regional parliament in Barcelona, shouting "Liberty" in Catalan and singing traditional songs as the independence vote went through.
The motion passed in the parliament after a debate from advocates and opponents of independence said Catalonia constituted an independent, sovereign and social democratic state.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont left the chamber to shouts of "President!" and mayors who had come from outlying areas brandished their ceremonial batons and sang the Catalan anthem "Els Segadors" (The Reapers).
"Catalonia is and will be a land of freedom. In times of difficulty and in times of celebration. Now more than ever", Puigdemont was quoted as having said on Twitter.
Within an hour after the vote, the upper house of Spain's parliament in Madrid authorized Rajoy's government to rule Catalonia directly -- an unprecedented move in Spain since the return of democracy in the late 1970s.
In Brussels, the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said the independence vote changed nothing and the EU would only deal with the central government.
The United States, Britain, France and Germany also swiftly dismissed the declaration and expressed support for Rajoy's efforts to keep Spain united.
Meanwhile, reported Reuters, Rajoy's cabinet was meeting on Friday evening to adopt the first measures to govern Catalonia. This could include firing the Barcelona government and assuming direct supervision of Catalan police forces.
The crisis between the Catalan government and the Spanish government unfolded after Catalonia held an independence referendum on October 1.
Although it endorsed independence, the referendum drew only a 43 percent turnout as Catalans who oppose independence largely boycotted it.
The Spanish government said the referendum was illegal and attempted to prevent the vote from taking place. Nearly 500 people were wounded in clashes with police on the day of the vote.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)