In a referendum – deemed unauthorised by the Spanish government – on Sunday, 1 October, 2.3 million people voted ‘yes’ to the question: Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?
On 10 October, Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont signed a declaration of independence in the regional Parliament, thus marking Catalonia’s divorce from Spain. Puigdemont failed, on Monday, 16 October, to respond to the ultimatum from Madrid to clarify if he had declared independence. On Sunday, 22 October, Spain took drastic measures to stop Catalonia from breaking away, announcing it will move to dismiss the region's separatist government and call fresh elections.
- Spain announces it will dismiss Catalonia’s government and call fresh elections
- Spain’s central government said it would suspend Catalonia’s autonomy and impose direct rule
- Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont failed on Monday to respond to an ultimatum from Madrid to clarify if he had declared independence
- PM Mariano Rajoy said Puigdemont’s stance had brought Madrid closer to triggering Article 155 of the Constitution
- Catalonia’s President signed a declaration of independence from Spain on Tuesday in the regional Parliament
- Nearly 90 percent of the 2.3 million who voted on 1 October favoured independence from Spain
Spain to Dismiss Catalonia's Government, Call Elections
Spain took drastic measures on Sunday to stop Catalonia from breaking away, announcing it will move to dismiss the region's separatist government and call fresh elections.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his regional ministers will be stripped of their jobs, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said.
Puigdemont's threat to declare a breakaway state "has been unilateral, contrary to the law, and seeking confrontation," said Rajoy, announcing measures that could give the central government direct control over Catalonia's police force and allow for its public media chiefs to be replaced.
Elections for the semi-autonomous region must be called within six months, he added, with Spain's national ministries to take over the jobs of Puigdemont and his team in the meantime.
The measures must now pass through the Senate – a process that will take about a week – but Rajoy's conservative Popular Party (PP) holds a majority there and his efforts to prevent a break-up of Spain have the backing of other major parties.
Catalan government number two Oriol Junqueras reacted furiously, posting on his Twitter account: "Today the PP and its allies have not only suspended autonomy, they have suspended democracy."
Spain Moves to Suspend Catalan Autonomy
In a move unprecedented since Spain returned to democracy in the late 1970s, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he would hold a special Cabinet meeting on Saturday, 21 October, that could trigger the move. The Socialist Opposition said they backed the government but suggested the measures should be limited in scope and time.
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, ignoring a 10 am deadline to drop his secession campaign, threatened Rajoy with a formal declaration of independence in the Catalan Parliament.
The two statements increased uncertainty over the month-long political crisis that has raised fears of social unrest, led the Euro zone's fourth-largest economy to cut its growth forecasts, and rattled the Euro.
Spain's High Court said on Monday, 16 October, that Catalonia's police chief would not be held in custody, after the state prosecutor had earlier asked for his detention while he is being formally investigated for sedition.
Spain's High Court Says Catalan Police Chief Will Not Be Detained
Spain's High Court said on Monday that Catalonia's police chief would not be held in custody after the state prosecutor earlier asked for his detention while he is formally investigated for sedition.
A court spokesman said Josep Lluis Trapero's passport would be withdrawn and he would not be able to leave Spain while the investigation continues.
Prosecutors had previously alleged that Trapero failed to rescue officers from the Civil Guard, a national police force, who were trapped inside a Catalan government building in Barcelona by pro-independence protesters in September.
Madrid Moves Towards Direct Rule Over Catalonia
Catalan authorities must drop a bid for independence by Thursday, the Spanish government said, moving closer to imposing direct rule over the region after its leader missed an initial deadline to back down.
In a confrontation viewed with mounting unease in European capitals and markets, Carles Puigdemont failed, on Monday, to respond to an ultimatum from Madrid to clarify if he had declared independence. A regional broadcaster said he also planned to ignore a second deadline on Thursday.
In a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy made public on Monday, Puigdemont did not directly answer on the independence issue, instead making a "sincere and honest" offer for dialogue between the two men over the next two months.
Yes or No? Catalan Separatists Face Critical Answer to Spain
Catalonia's president is facing a critical decision that could determine the course of the region's secessionist movement to break away from Spain.
The Spanish government has given Carles Puigdemont until Monday morning to clarify if he did or didn't actually declare independence earlier this week.
If Puigdemont replies "Yes", then Spain's government has given him until Thursday to back down or else Catalonia's ample self-rule could be temporarily suspended.
But if Puigdemont replies "No," he will likely face rebellion from hardliners inside the secessionist camp which could topple his government and force a regional election for Catalonia. The far-left CUP party said on Saturday that it will withdraw its key support from Puigdemont's government if he fails to make a firm statement for a declaration of independence and deliver on that promise in the regional Parliament.
Spain Gives Catalan Leader 5 Days to Clarify Independence and Rectify
The Spanish government has given Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont five days to say whether he declared independence or not, Spanish news agency Efe said on Wednesday.
If Puigdemont was to confirm he did declare independence, he would be given an additional three days to rectify. Failing this, Article 155 of the constitution, which allows the central government to suspend a region's political autonomy and rule it directly, would be triggered.
Spanish Govt Holds Urgent Meeting Over Catalonia Crisis
The Spanish government has started an urgent meeting to discuss its next steps to halt the northeastern region of Catalonia from proceeding with a declaration of independence. Spanish national television showed images of the ministers gathered around a tabled as the meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, got underway.
Wednesday's meeting is taking place after Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont said the previous day that he will proceed with the secession but is suspending it for a few weeks to facilitate negotiations in what is Spain's most serious political crisis in decades. Rajoy is to address Parliament later on Wednesday.
Possible Outcomes of Wednesday’s Emergency Cabinet Meeting
One of the government's options at the Wednesday meeting could be to set about applying Article 155 of the Constitution, which allows the central government to take some or total control of any of its 17 regions that don't comply with their legal obligations.
This would begin with a Cabinet meeting and a warning to the regional government to fall into line. Then, the Senate could be called to approve the measure.
Spain Calls Emergency Cabinet Meeting Over Catalonia
Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria called an emergency Cabinet meeting for Wednesday morning and gave little indication it is willing to talk, despite Catalonia's President saying he would "give dialogue a chance,” reported AP.
The central government in Madrid said it did not accept the declaration of independence by the separatists and did not consider the referendum or its results to be valid.
She said Puigdemont had put Catalonia "in the greatest level of uncertainty seen yet."
Radical Catalans Make Demands on Regional Government
The far-left separatist Catalan party CUP is demanding that the regional government set a time limit on its quest to negotiate with Spain's central government before putting into effect a declaration of independence.
CUP spokesman Quim Arrufat suggested a month as a time the Catalan government should give for a last-ditch dialogue with Spain. CUP and other separatist members of the regional Parliament signed a document they called a declaration of independence of Catalonia from the rest of Spain on Tuesday. But regional president Carles Puigdemont said that its effects would be delayed to give a chance to start talks with Spain on breaking away.
CUP lawmaker Anna Gabriel said that her party didn't agree with the decision not push directly for secession.
She told Parliament: "The declaration of independence hasn't arrived like we wanted. We can't remain silent after it suspension. We have lost an opportunity."
Catalan Leader Stakes Claim to Independence, Then Delays It
Catalan separatists on Tuesday signed what they called a declaration of independence from Spain to cheers and applause in the regional Parliament. Catalonia's President said he would delay implementing it for several weeks to give dialogue a chance.
In his highly anticipated speech, regional President Carles Puigdemont said the landslide victory in a disputed 1 October referendum gave his government the grounds to implement its long-held desire to break century-old ties with Spain.
But he proposed that the regional Parliament "suspend the effects of the independence declaration to commence a dialogue, not only for reducing tension but for reaching an accord on a solution to go forward with the demands of the Catalan people."
Barcelona Mayor Says All Sides Must De-Escalate
Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau says the results of a disputed independence referendum earlier in October can't be used to declare secession and is calling on all sides to de-escalate tensions to solve "the most severe institutional crisis since the re-establishment of democracy in Spain."
But the mayor of Barcelona says the "main culprit" for the crisis is the central government, and urges Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to avoid escalating the crisis further by resorting to a constitutional clause that would allow central authorities to take over some or all regional control.
High Security Ahead of Key Catalan Parliamentary Address
Police are guarding public buildings and closing off a park surrounding the regional Catalan Parliament in Barcelona where a declaration of independence on Tuesday evening is likely to be met with a harsh response from Spanish central authorities.
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont hasn't revealed the precise message he will deliver in a 6 pm plenary session, but separatist politicians have said they expect a declaration based on the results of the disputed 1 October independence referendum.
Protesters Take to Streets of Catalan Towns
Striking workers, students and hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Barcelona and other Catalan towns on Tuesday, 3 October, to protest police violence, adding pressure to Spain's unprecedented political crisis as central authorities mull how to respond to separatists' plans to push ahead with secession.
Separatist leaders in Catalonia have vowed to declare independence in the northeastern region this week following Sunday’s disputed referendum.
The city's urban guard said that 7,00,000 people joined Tuesday afternoon's marches in Barcelona. In Barcelona’s Catalonia and University squares, a sea of demonstrators waved flags, most of them “esteladas” embraced by those wishing secession, but also plenty of Spanish national flags.
Catalonia to Declare Independence "In a Matter of Days"
Catalonia will declare independence "in a matter of days", the region's secessionist leader Carles Puigdemont told the BBC, a move that would defy Madrid and attempt to implement the directive of Sunday's banned independence referendum.
Puigdemont said that his government would "act at the end of this week or the beginning of next", according to an interview with the BBC on Tuesday.
The regional leader opened the door to a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain on Sunday after voters defied a violent police crackdown and, according to regional officials, voted 90 percent in favour of breaking away.
The Catalonia region has seen calls for independence since Spanish dictator Francisco Franco’s death in 1975. This demand was revived in the wake of the 2008 global recession.
(Source: Reuters, BBC)
Spain’s King Felipe VI Criticises Catalan Govt
With protesters still in the streets, Spain's King Felipe VI made a television appearance on Tuesday evening and accused authorities in Catalonia of deliberately bending the law and undermining coexistence, adding that the Spanish state has a duty to ensure unity and constitutional order in the country.
Felipe, said in his address to the nation, “We are living through very serious moments for our democratic life...”
“We have all borne witness to the events in Catalonia, with the ultimate aim of the Generalitat (regional government) that Catalonia’s independence be illegally proclaimed,” Spain’s King Felipe VI said.
He added, “With these decisions they have systematically infringed the approved legal framework, showing an unacceptable disloyalty to the powers of the state.”
The vote was boycotted by most of Spain’s national parties on grounds that it was illegal and lacked basic guarantees, such as transparency, a proper census or an independent electoral governing body.