Catalonia’s secessionist crisis

Parlament de Catalunya, toniher (CC BY-SA)

Timeline of the procés

22 December

Catalonia secessionist parties regain control of the region’s parliament

William Chislett — The election clearly showed the depth of pro-independence sentiment and the profound polarisation of society.

21 December

Regional elections in Catalonia

On a record turnout of 82%, Ciutadans, led by Inés Arrimadas, won the elections on a quarter of total votes. However, the three pro-independence parties combined –Junts per Catalunya-PDeCAT, Esquerra Republicana and CUP– won 70 seats, two above the 68 necessary for an absolute majority, but again without capturing a majority of the vote (47.5%). Partido Popular (PP), the party of the central government in Madrid, recorded its worst results ever in Catalonia, with four seats and 4% of the vote.

🗳️ Official results (provisional)

5 December

Election campaign kicks off in Catalonia

Esquerra Republicana and PDeCAT fail to agree on continuing their Junts pel Sí coalition. All the main political parties field the same lead candidates as in the previous election, including Carles Puigdemont, who remains in Brussels, and Oriol Junqueras, still in prison.

Debat a TV3 Debate en La Sexta

1 December

Sedition in Catalonia

Miguel Otero-Iglesias — How can it be that Catalonia, one of the most prosperous, autonomous, cosmopolitan, modern and attractive regions on earth, is about to jump over a cliff?

9 November

The speaker of the Catalan Parliament and independence leader Carme Forcadell declares in the Spanish High Court that she respects legality and that the declaration of independence was symbolic. The judge releases her on bail.

8 November

The potential impact of the Catalan crisis on the Spanish economy

William Chislett — The crisis in Catalonia is already exacting a toll on the Catalan economy, and threatens to seriously weaken the wider Spanish economy if the situation is prolonged.

2 November

The judge orders the ex-Deputy Prime Minister, Oriol Junqueras, and eight former Catalan Ministers to be sent to jail on remand. Carles Puigdemont remains in Brussels with four other ex-Ministers, where they travelled two days after their dismissal. He is summoned to appear before a Belgian court after a European arrest warrant is issued by the Spanish courts. A general strike is called in Catalonia for 8 November to protest against the imprisonments (participation is patchy) and a mass demonstration in Barcelona for 12 November.

30 October

Article 155 is deployed without any resistance from the deposed Catalan authorities. Nearly 100 countries, the EU, NATO and the United Nations make declarations explicitly rejecting independence during the week that follows. Belgium, Slovenia, Israel and Venezuela are more ambivalent, but no government recognises Catalonia.

27 October

The Catalan Parliament declares the independence of Catalonia

Independence is declared unilaterally after a secret ballot in the Catalan Parliament, with 70 votes cast in favour, 2 blank votes, 10 against and the absence of the Ciutadans, PSC and PP members of parliament. Shortly thereafter the Spanish Senate approves the triggering of Article 155 and Mariano Rajoy’s government dissolves the Catalan Parliament, dismisses the members of the Generalitat and calls regional elections for 21 December 2017.

10 October

The Catalan regional Prime Minister declares and suspends Catalan independence

In a speech in the Catalan Parliament, Carles Puigdemont presents a declaration of independence based upon the ‘popular mandate emanating from the ballot boxes on 1 October’, which he immediately suspends in order to negotiate with the central government. The following day, the central government triggers the mechanisms for applying Article 155 of the Constitution, which provides for the suspension of autonomy. Meanwhile, hundreds of companies move their registered offices outside the region.

8 October

Mass demonstration in Barcelona against independence

Some 350,000 take to the streets of the Catalan capital in favour of Spanish unity. The association behind it, Societat Civil Catalana, organises further large-scale demonstrations against independence on 12 and 29 October, the latter with the explicit support of the constitutionalist parties Ciutadans, PSC and PP de Catalunya.

4 October

Not everything has gone badly in Spain

William Chislett — In times of national angst, it is easy to become despondent and fall prey to the false belief that everything is going wrong in Spain.

3 October

The King: ‘It is the responsibility of the legitimate powers of state to ensure constitutional order’

A robust televised speech is delivered by King Felipe VI, accusing the Generalitat of placing itself outside the rule of law and democracy. It is watched by 83.5% of viewers in Catalonia, where on the same day a general strike is held, supported by the Generalitat.

1 October

The illegal referendum is held despite a widespread deployment of police officers

Despite attempts to prevent it on the part of the central government and the High Court of Catalonia and the intervention of police officers in anti-riot gear, 42% of the electorate take part in the plebiscite, of whom 90% vote in favour, according to data from the Generalitat.

20 September

The Guardia Civil acts to halt the referendum preparations

The police operation, carried out under the orders of the Spanish Attorney General, is met by resistance from independence supports, with some violence being witnessed. The activists Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sánchez, leaders of the associations that organised the demonstration, will later be arrested on charges of sedition for the gatherings.

19 September

Catalonia: the external dimension to the fore

Andrés Ortega — The attempt to hold an independence referendum in Catalonia has been the focus of a good deal of Spanish foreign policy in recent months.

7 September

The Catalan Parliament approves a law enacting the self-determination referendum, which is binding, and a law of juridical transition and foundation of the Republic, approved by 72 votes in favour with 11 abstentions. The 52 members of parliament from Ciutadans, PSC and PP walk out of the chamber. The next day both laws are suspended by the Constitutional Court.

11 September
2016

Puigdemont questions whether the 2015 results are sufficient to grant legitimacy to independence and resurrects the idea of a referendum agreed with the central government. The central government rejects this.

9 June
2016

Puigdemont announces a referendum for 1 October.

10 January
2016

Carles Puigdemont becomes regional Prime Minister

The Convergència/PDeCAT member of the Catalan parliament and former mayor of Girona is sworn in because CUP demands the resignation of Artur Mas. Puigdemont promises unilateral independence within 18 months. The leader of ERC, Oriol Junqueras, becomes Deputy Prime Minister.

13 October
2015

Catalonia torn in two

Ignacio Molina & Miguel Otero-Iglesias, Politico — Catalan independentismo won last Sunday’s regional elections. But it lost the so-called plebiscite on secession. As a result, Catalonia now faces a difficult future with its society divided and the links with the rest of Spain deeply eroded.

27 September
2015

The independence movement gains an absolute majority of seats, but not votes

Artur Mas again calls early elections, which his party, Convergència, contests in coalition with ERC under the name of Junts pel Sí. They do not obtain an absolute majority and have to rely on the radical party CUP to govern. Support for the antinationalist opposition (Ciutadans) again rises.

Despite the fact that the separatist parties (Junts pel Sí and CUP) fail to obtain 50% of votes cast, on 27 October the Declaration of the Initiation of the Independence Process is approved by 72 votes to 63.

Pro-independence parties win the Catalan regional elections — William Chislett

18 June
2015

CiU splits and the moderate nationalists of Unió leave. Convergència declares itself to be an explicitly separatist party. In July 2016 it renames itself Partit Demòcrata Europeu Català (PDeCAT).

9 November
2014

Popular consultation on Catalan independence

An independence referendum unilaterally organised by the Generalitat is held, despite being banned by the Constitutional Court. Approximately 33% of the electorate take part and 1.8 million vote in favour of independence. On 13 March 2017 the High Court of Catalonia disqualifies Mas for disobedience.

8 April
2014

The Spanish Congress of Deputies rejects by a large majority a proposal to give the Generalitat (the Catalan regional government) powers to organise a legal referendum.

20 November
2013

European Commission: ‘a new independent state would become a third country with respect to the EU’

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durão Barroso, states that the treaties would cease to apply to an independent Scotland or Catalonia, citing the doctrine that had been in place for years. This pronouncement will be repeated by him on numerous occasions, by his successor from 2014 onwards, Jean Claude Juncker, and by other authorities at the EU institutions.

11 September
2013

Second mass-participation Diada with the forming of a human chain that stretches 400 km from one end of Catalonia to another.

25 November
2012

Regional elections: support for Convergència i Unió (CiU) declines and increases for Esquerra Republicana (ERC) and Ciutadans

Artur Mas (CiU) calls elections to try to capitalise on the Diada mobilisation, but secures a poor result for his party. Support for more explicit separatism (ERC) rises, but also the anti-nationalist opposition (Ciutadans and PP). Mas carries on as regional Prime Minister, but is more polarised by virtue of relying on ERC.

20 November
2012

Independence and the European Union

Joseph Weiler — The only merit in a Catalonian referendum would be to allow the Catalans to have the good sense decisively to reject the proposal.

12 September
2012

First large pro-independence demonstration: start of the procés

Some 600,000 people demonstrate in Barcelona during the Diada (national day of Catalonia). Under the slogan Catalunya, nou estat d’Europa (“Catalonia, new state of Europe”) the demonstration, called by the Catalan National Assembly association, marks the beginning of the so-called sovereignty process.