Catalan push for independence: How did we get here?
CATALAN NEWS AGENCY – A timeline of the events that brought Catalonia to the brink of declaring independence from Spain
Tensions between Barcelona and Madrid have reached unseen levels ahead of Tuesday’s crucial parliamentary session. Which begs the question, how on Earth did we get to the point at which a Catalan president may declare the country no longer part of Spain? It all started 14 years ago, when a new Catalan government had the idea of reforming a text that had been the basis of rule in the country since the post-Franco transition.
The country sets a new goal for self-government: reforming the Statute of Autonomy. The Catalan parliament passes it with an overwhelming majority in 2005.
The Spanish parliament cuts back on the degree of self-government provided by the text. One senior Socialist MP boasts about it. Yet the public approve it in a referendum. That, however, is not the end of the journey, it is just the beginning. The People’s Party starts gathering signatures against the Statute and, after public approval, sends it to the Constitutional Court.
After four years, the Constitutional Court rules that 14 articles of the Statute are outside the law and reinterprets 23 more. This event sparks outrage and a 1.1 million-strong demonstration some weeks later. The call for independence is the chant most heard. In the meantime, citizens hold unofficial local votes on self-determination in hundreds of Catalan towns.
The first mass pro-independence demonstration on September 11 makes society, and politicians, realize just how many people now want a Catalan state. Five more protests will follow annually in the next few years.
The then Catalan president asks his Spanish counterpart for more financial autonomy. The answer is “no”.
After a fresh election, a majority of lawmakers commit to holding a referendum. Pro-independence support peaks in 2013 at 57%.
A first major attempt is made to agree a vote with the Spanish parliament, as the Scots did with London. The result: 47 votes in favor, 299 against.
Then, the government calls an unofficial vote for November 9, but leaves the preparations to volunteers to avoid legal liability. Spain bans the vote but lets it go ahead. The yes vote wins with 80%, but turnout is only around 40%.
Pro-independence parties attain a parliamentary majority for the first time since the 1930s. Together they win 48% of the votes, while clear-cut unionist parties obtain 39%. Parties which do not have a clearly defined standpoint on independence but do support a referendum get the rest of the votes.
A new Catalan president is elected in January. He tries to open talks on holding a referendum with his Spanish counterpart. The answer is again is “no”. While he says he will be open to dialogue until the end, he vows to hold a referendum even if Madrid is against it.
The 2014 vote organizers are barred from office and ordered to pay five million euros. Nevertheless, the new referendum remains on course for October 1. Despite warnings, raids, arrests and seizures by Spanish authorities, it goes ahead.
The Yes vote wins at 90%, but based on a turnout of 43%. Yet, the main highlight is the Spanish police violence, which leaves 900 injured but fails to stop the vote. The conflict makes the headlines worldwide and the Catalan president asks for mediation, but insists the results of the vote will be implemented.