|Spain: La Moncloa
+ The days leading up to the referendum
An independence referendum was held by the Catalan government in the Spanish region / country of Catalonia on the 1 October 2017. The holding of the referendum was opposed by the Spanish government and had been declared illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court.
Catalan officials claimed that results of the referendum had shown 90% of the 2.3 million Catalans who voted were in favour of independence. Catalonia had 5.3 million registered voters. Turnout was 43%. The main groups opposing independence had recommended to their supporters not to take part in the referendum.
In the evening of the 1 October 2017 Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont declared that Catalonia had 'earned the right to be an independent state'.
on the 10 October 2017 that pro-independence parties in the Catalan parliament and the Catalan government signed a declaration of independence. The document constituted 'the Catalan republic as an independent state', but did not include a clear date on when this would be official.
Speaking in the Catalan parliament, the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, leader of the Junts pel Si (Together for Yes), said Catalans had won the right to be independent but suspended the formal declaration of statehood to seek dialogue with the Spanish government and, hopefully, the EU.
Inés Arrimadas, leader of the opposition party Ciutadans (Citizens) in Catalonia said 'This has been the chronicle of a foretold coup, of a coup to democracy, to common sense. And above all, a coup against a common project called Spain and EU'.
The Catalan branch of the Spanish ruling party, the People's Party (PP), Xavier García Albiol, criticised the speech and said that the Spanish government in Madrid under Mariano Rajoy would never allow a secession.
The Spanish government called a special cabinet meeting for the 11 October 2017 to discuss the situation. Prime Minister Rajoy briefed the Spanish Parliament later in the day.
He said he had requested the Catalan government to clear up whether independence had been declared, in which case he would activate a constitutional provision giving the central government power under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution to temporarily take over Catalonia’s internal affairs. An answer must be received from the Catalan government by the 16 October 2017 (later extended to the 19 October 2017).
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont proposed on the 11 October 2017 that two representatives from both the Catalan and Spanish governments agree upon a mediator for the ongoing political crisis.
In a letter delivered to the Spanish government on the 16 October 2016 Carles Puigdemont again called for dialogue but did not explictly answer the question posed by Madrid on the 11 October 2017.
Following a preliminary suspension on the 7 September 2017, the Constitutional Court of Spain formally decided on the 17 October 2017 that the referendum law adopted by the Catalan parliament on the 6 September 2017 was unconstitutional, and devoid of any binding legal force. Following the response from the President of the Regional Government of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont on both the 16 and 19 October 2017, to the official demand sent to him by the Government of Spain, the Government Spokesperson, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, made a statement in the Lower House of Parliament in Madrid on the 19 October 2017.
The Spanish Government would convene a Cabinet meeting on the 21 October 2017 to propose a series of measures under the framework of Article 155 of the Constitution — which allowed 'all measures necessary to compel' a region to abide by the law. These measures would be sent to the Senate for approval.
Catalan News and other news sources reported Carles Puigdemont, Catalan president, as saying in response 'If the Spanish government insists on blocking dialogue and continuing repression, the Catalan parliament may proceed to vote on the formal declaration of independence'.
Following the Cabinet meeting on the 21 October 2017 the Spanish Government activated Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. Amongst the emergency measures suggested were the removal of all the current members of the Catalan government and to call for elections to take place in Catalonia within six months. For the measures to be implemented the Spanish Senate (upper house of the Spanish Parliament) would need to approve them. The plan was for them to come into operation on the 28 October 2017.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said 'The autonomy of Catalonia is not being suspended ... The people who have put it in risk are being suspended'.
Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Barcelona against the proposal to impose direct rule from Madrid and calling for the release of two pro-independence activists being held in custody.
Carles Puigdemont said that the activation of Article 155 was 'the worst attack on the institutions and the people of Catalonia since the decrees of the military dictator Francisco Franco'.
The Catalan government called for a plenary session of the Catalan parliament on the 26-27 October 2017 to debate 'the liquidation of our self-government'. Pro-independence forces wanted the debate to end with a vote and a possible declaration of independence of Catalonia from Spain.
The event would coincide in time with the Spanish Senate debating and voting on the Spanish Government proposal to activate Article 155 and instigate emergency control measures. The Spanish Senate offered Carles Puigdemont the opportunity to appear before it to present his case.
In the event, the 26 October 2017 became a crunch date in the dispute as both the Catalan Parliament and the Spanish Senate held key meetings. Would Catalan President Carles Puigdemont make an independence declaration or call for an election in Catalonia?
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