Catalonia crisis: Did Catalonia hold an independence vote?

The people of Catalonia had been tricked into taking part in the banned vote, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy delivers a statement at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain – Photo: Sergio Perez/REUTERS
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Last June, President Carles Puigdemont, Head of Catalonia, northeastern Spain, said that the region would hold a referendum on splitting from Spain on October 1 while the Spanish Government said it would block any independence vote in Catalonia, arguing such a vote was illegal and must not take place.

On October 1, Catalonia failed to hold an independence referendum, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said, after more than 760 people were injured in clashes between police and voters.

The people of Catalonia had been tricked into taking part in the banned vote, Rajoy said, adding that the referendum was a strategy by the regional government against legality and democratic harmony and was a “path that leads to nowhere.”

Rajoy thanked security forces for upholding the law and doing their job and he called to meet with all Spanish political parties to discuss the country’s future following the referendum.

However, Catalonia held an independence vote on Sunday despite violent attempts to stop it, thus the Spanish Prime Minister is struggling to secure support from across the traditional political divide in his battle to stop Catalonia breaking away - a lack of consensus that could compound Spain’s worst political crisis for decades.

Sacking the Catalan government is known in Madrid as the “nuclear option”, given it is considered likely to foment unrest in Barcelona and through the rest of the heavily industrialized, affluent region that accounts for a fifth of Spain’s economy.

Article 155 of the 1978 constitution has never been used in a country where fascist dictatorship is a living memory. The conservative People's Party is seen by Catalans as historically connected to the era of late dictator Francisco Franco, so experts say Rajoy must have the Socialists, also strong unionists, on board.

“The 155 needs wide-ranging backing because we don’t know whether it will resolve problems, and if it’s only backed by one party in congress then it will be difficult to obtain the backing of a majority of Catalans,” said Rafael Hernando, who serves as a parliamentary organizer for the PP.

Without that backing, Rajoy’s hand could be weakened and, according to political sources and analysts, he might ultimately call a snap national election to win a mandate to take on the Catalan separatists.


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