Where the Mediterranean reaches the Atlantic and
where Europe meets Africa, Spain is one of the oldest
European states. Spanish conquerors made their country a
world power in the late 1400s, and in modern times Spain
has gone from bloody civil war to becoming a modern
democracy and one of the world's most popular holiday
destinations. Independence aspirations in regions such
as Catalonia and the Basque Country contribute to
political tensions in the country.
Brief profiles of Spain, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Spain is one of the largest states in Europe
and covers 85 percent of the Iberian Peninsula. Spain
also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean
and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic, as well as the
cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the Moroccan
Spain is one of Europe's most mountainous countries.
Within the north coast the Cantabrian mountains reach up
to 2,500 meters in height. In the northeast, along the
border with France, lies the Pyrenees mountain range
with peaks over 3,000 meters. In Andalucia in the south
there is Spain's highest mountain, Mulhacén, in the
Sierra Nevada mountain range.
The almost treeless central plateau, la meseta, is
Europe's largest highland plateau. The soil there is
nutrient poor and the climate is harsh. The highlands
are enclosed in the north, south, east and partly in the
southwest by high ridges. Plains are mainly found along
the coasts and in the valleys along the Ebro rivers in
the northeast and Guadalquiviri southwest.
The climate varies between different parts of the
country and Spain has several different climate zones.
The north coast is rainy with mild summers. The central
plateau is rainy with hot summers and often quite cold
winters. In the south, summer temperatures in the
interior can rise to over 40 degrees. At the coastal
belt towards the Mediterranean, summers are not as hot
as inland and winters are mild.
Climate change has hit Spain more than many other
European countries with rising temperatures. This has
led to water shortages in many places and beaches being
eroded due to rising sea levels. Read more about this in
an article in English from EL País.
FACTS - GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
504 880 km2 (2018)
Adjacent country (s)
Portugal, France, Andorra, Gibraltar, Morocco
Capital with number of inhabitants
Madrid 3,233,000 (2018)
Other major cities
Barcelona 1 620 000, Valencia 791 400, Seville 689
000, Zaragoza 667 000, Málaga 571 000 (2018)
Mulhacén (on the mainland, 3481 m), Pico de Teide (on
the island of Tenerife, 3718 m)
Tajo, Ebro, Guadalquivir
Tajo, Ebro, Guadalquivir
Average Precipitation / month
Madrid 48 mm (dec), 11 mm (July)
Average / day
Madrid 24 °C (July), 5 °C (Jan)
Triple the migration to Spain
The number of migrants / asylum seekers who travel to Spain via the sea route
has tripled in 2017, compared to the previous year. According to the
International Organization for Migration (IOM), 21,500 people have arrived
during the year, and over 200 have disappeared or perished during the trip to
Spain. In recent years, most of the migrants have come from sub-Saharan
countries, but toughening economic conditions and social unrest have led to more
and more Moroccans and Algerians trying to get to Spain.
Police forces are withdrawn from Catalonia
The national police are beginning to withdraw the police forces sent to
Catalonia ahead of the controversial referendum in the region on October 1. The
police announce that the retreat will be gradual and be completed on December
More Catalan separatists are being investigated for crimes
The Supreme Court, which handles the legal proceedings initiated against
Catalan separatist leaders, announces that the criminal investigation has now
been expanded to include six more people: Marta Rovira and Marta Pascal, top
politician within the separatist parties ERC and PDeCat, former Catalan
president Artur Mas and two former MPs from CUP and the leader of a Catalan
municipal organization for independence. The six are being investigated for
rioting, insurrection and misuse of public funds. None of them have been
prosecuted yet. Earlier in December, the Court decided to seize Artur Mas's home
to recover fines of almost € 5 million, which were sentenced following the
referendum held in Catalonia in 2014 despite being banned by the Constitutional
Majority for the separatist parties
The separatists Together for Catalonia (which includes PDeCat, among others),
the ERC and the Cup retain their majority in the regional parliament in
Catalonia but lose three seats compared to the elections in 2015. The biggest
success in the election is Ciudadanos who opposes Catalonia's independence.
Ciudadanos wins 11 new seats and becomes Parliament's largest party with 36
seats. Of the separatist parties, deposed President Puigdemonts Together for
Catalonia gets the most mandate, 34, while the ERC, led by former Vice President
Junqueras, gets the 32nd Cup loses six out of ten seats and lands on four. Prime
Minister Rajoys PP goes back sharply. The Catalan version of PP backs from 11 to
4 mandates. The Socialists win 17 seats while Comú, the local branch of Podemos,
gets 8 seats.
Accusations of mistreatment in migrant detention centers
In the fall, reports of serious ill-treatment were reported in the seven
special migrant detention centers located in Spain. These include allegations of
severe abuse, racism and lack of medical care. Most people who are imprisoned
come from an African country and can be held there for up to 60 days.
Manifestation for Catalan independence in Brussels
About 45,000 Catalans demonstrate in Brussels in support of Catalonia's
independence and the deposed regional president Carles Puigdemont. At the same
time, the electoral movement is in full swing in Catalonia. The issue is given
little room, most of it is about the future status of the region, although both
separatist parties have softened their tone on the issue of independence. ERC
still barely leads in opinion polls before Puigdemont's PDeCAT. ERC leader Oriol
Junqueras, who is in custody, will be replaced in the election campaign by Marta
Rovira. And when Puigdemont is in Brussels, there is also a woman, Elsa Artadi,
who leads the electoral movement for PDeCAT.
The problems are hoping for Rajoy
The problems are hopeful for the Spanish government, not least as Parliament
has not yet approved the 2018 budget. Apart from the PP government, the budget
is supported by Ciudadanos and several MPs from the Canary Islands, but the
Basque party PNV has not yet given its support. Work on establishing new laws is
also slow. In 2016, only 9 new laws were approved compared to 48 the year
before. At the same time, Prime Minister Rajoy seems to be swaying about the
promise to the PSOE to investigate how the Spanish constitution should be
reformed. Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez is not the only one to complain
that Rajoy's government is too passive.
HD withdraws European arrest warrant for Catalan leaders
The Supreme Court withdraws the European arrest warrant for former Catalan
President Carles Puigdemont and four of his ministers located in Belgium. This
is according to Judge Pablo Llareno, after the five politicians have shown their
willingness to return to Catalonia to take part in the regional elections on
December 21. Llareno believes, according to the Spain Report Online News, that a
Belgian judge could limit what crimes the five could be prosecuted in a Spanish
court and that the legal process could look different for different people
within the prosecuted group.
Catalan politicians are denied bail
The Supreme Court says no to release former Catalan Vice President Oriol
Junqueras and former Interior Minister Joaquim Forn against the bail.
Independence activists Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart also remain in custody.
Six other former ministers are released if they pay a bail amount of € 100,000.
Pablo Llarena, a judge in the Supreme Court, has previously taken a softer line
against prosecuted Catalan politicians than Carmen Lamela in the special court.
The Supreme Court takes over the legal process against Puigdemont and other
The Supreme Court takes over the judicial process against former Catalan
leader Carles Puigdemont and the other 13 who sat in his government. The Supreme
Court has already handled the legal proceedings against the members of the
Catalan Parliamentary Presidency as well as the independence activists Jordi
Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart. Judge Pablo Llarena says that the charge of rebellion
concerns a crime committed collectively that all defendants should therefore be
Spanish budget raises EU concerns
The European Commission expresses concern that Spain's budget for 2018 will
not meet the rules that exist for the euro zone. The budget deficit appears to
be 2.3 percent, which is 0.1 percent more than allowed. The Spanish Government
is invited to submit a new and revised version to the Commission.
More and more African migrants are coming to Spain
About 600 people are rescued from the sea when the boat they travel in
capsules en route between Morocco and Spain. More and more African migrants are
now trying to get to Europe via Spain. So far in the year, Spain has received
almost 18,000 people, which is a tripling of 2016.
Belgian prosecutors recommend extradition of Catalan politicians
Prosecutors in Belgium recommend that Carles Puigdemont and three other
Catalan politicians be extradited to Spain. The next step in the process will be
December 4, when the judges will hear the four Catalans. However, it may take
several months for a final decision to be taken, as the parties can appeal a
decision to two higher courts.
Political crisis hits Catalonia's economy
The political crisis in Catalonia has led to a sharp decline for the tourism
industry in the region. According to industry representatives, sales and
bookings in some of Barcelona's most popular areas have fallen by almost a
third. Almost 2,500 commercial companies must also have relocated their
headquarters from Catalonia to other parts of Spain.
750,000 in pro-separatist protest in Barcelona
About 750,000 people are demonstrating in Barcelona to protest against the
arrest of Catalan leaders. On banners, they urge the authorities to "free the
political prisoners". At the same time, Prime Minister Rajoy is attending a PP
elections in Catalonia, calling on "the silent majority" to vote in the
elections to show where they stand. The PP won just over 8 percent of the vote
in the regional elections in 2015. The pro-separatist ERC announces that several
of the arrested, including party leader Oriol Junqueras, and former ministers
now in Belgium will be included in the party's ballot papers.
Catalan President is released on bail
A judge in the Supreme Court decides to release Carme Forcadell, President of
the Catalan Parliament, for a bail of 150,000 euros. However, the judge says
Forcadell will be remanded if she commits new crimes, which will probably make
it impossible for her to participate in the regional elections in Catalonia in
December. Four other members of the Presidents' Committee who have been detained
have been released, but were asked to pay € 25,000 each in the bail by the
coming week, otherwise they will be jailed. Another member of the Committee of
Presidents, Joan Josep Nuet, has been released without such conditions. However,
she must regularly appear in court.
Court illegally declares Catalonia's declaration of independence
The Spanish Constitutional Court illegally declares the Catalan parliament's
declaration of independence.
Strike stops traffic in Catalonia
Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said in an interview with the British
media company BBC that there is a discussion about changing the constitution to
allow referendums on exit, but in that case the decision must be taken by all
Spaniards. At the same time, protests against the suspended self-government and
imprisonment of Catalan political leaders are ongoing.
PDeCat and ERC are each in the Catalan regional elections
There will be no election alliance between Puigdemont's PDeCat and ERC, led
by Oriol Junqueras ahead of the regional elections in December. The parties have
failed to agree on joint party lists. However, a representative of the ERC says
it is likely that the parties can agree on joint writing regarding the
independence policy in each election manifesto. A week later, it becomes clear
that PDeCat and CDC are putting together the name Together for Catalonia
(Junts per Catalunya).
Catalan politicians are released, but are not allowed to leave Belgium
The Belgian investigating judge decides that former Catalan regional
president Carles Puigdemont and four of his former ministers will not be
detained. They are released but are not allowed to leave the country and must
keep the court informed of where they live. The five Catalan politicians will be
heard again within 15 days. Belgium now has up to 60 days to hand them over to
Spain, unless legal objections exist, the process can go faster than that.
Puigdemont surrenders to Belgian police
Carles Puigdemont and four other former Catalan ministers (former Minister of
Agriculture Meritxell Serret, former Minister of Health Antoni Comín, former
Minister of Culture Lluís Puig and former Minister of Education Clara Ponsatí)
surrender to the police in Belgium. They can be held for 24 hours before a judge
decides whether to release them, release them under certain conditions or be
International arrest warrants are issued for Catalan politicians
Carmen Lamela, a judge at a special court in Madrid, issues both
international and European arrest warrants for former Catalan regional president
Carles P uigdemont and four other Catalan politicians located in Belgium. They
are accused of insurrection, rioting and abuse by public funds.
Catalan politicians are arrested
Nine of the 13 politicians ordered to stand before the Audiencia Nacional
Special Court in Madrid do so. The judge decides to arrest eight of the
politicians, citing that there is a high risk that they will escape or destroy
evidence. A former minister, Santi Vila, who resigned before the independence
vote on October 27, could be released on a € 50,000 bail. No formal prosecution
has yet been brought. Carles Puigdemont and four of his former ministers: Clara
Ponsatí, Toni Comín, Lluís Puig and Meritxell Serret have not obeyed the judge's
summons and are in Brussels. The prosecutor calls on the judge to issue a
European arrest warrant for the five politicians. Outside the Catalan parliament
in Barcelona, a number of thousands of separatist supporters gather to protest
the arrests. The judge's decision was also criticized by a number of political
parties and organizations in Catalonia. The Supreme Court decides to wait until
November 9 before hearing the six members of the Catalan Presidency Committee.
This is done at the request of the committee members' attorneys.
Catalan separatist leaders risk long prison sentences
The first steps are now being taken in the legal action against Puigdemont
and other Catalan separatists. The Special Court, Audiencia Nacional, is
calling, among other things, the former regional president and second governor
Oriol Junqueras to testify in Madrid on November 2-3. They are given three days
to pay a deposit of EUR 6.2 million to cover any damages. If they do not appear
in court, prosecutors may decide to arrest them. The Spanish State Prosecutor
has previously recommended that Puigdemont and several others be brought to
justice for rioting, rioting and abuse by public funds, crimes that can result
in up to 30 years in prison. But no charges have yet been brought. Puigdemont
says at a press conference in Brussels that he might want to return to Catalonia
when he gets "some guarantees" from the Spanish government. He does not think he
can get a "fair" trial in Spain. At the same time, the Supreme Court (Tribunal
Supremo) has initiated legal proceedings against President Carme Forcadell and
five members of the Catalan Presidency Committee. It is because the six are
members of Parliament and thus enjoy prosecution immunity that the case is
handled by the Supreme Court and not the Special Court.
Puigdemont travels to Brussels
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has traveled to Brussels to meet leaders of
Flemish nationalist parties. It is speculated that he intends to seek political
asylum in Belgium, something he himself denies. He insists that he is still
Catalonia's regional president and announces that he and his party PDeCAT will
take part in the regional elections in December. At least seven other former
Catalan regional ministers are in Brussels. Catalonia's Republican Left (ERC)
announces that the party will take part in the election. At the same time,
opinion polls indicate that support for an independent Catalonia is increasing.
Nearly 49 percent of Catalans say they are independent, which is the highest
figure in three years, while just under 44 percent say they are against.
The Catalonia crisis also creates concerns within Podemos
The events in Catalonia also create disarray in Podemos. The national party
leadership announces via a letter that it takes control of the Catalan part of
the party. A letter criticized Albano Dante Fachin, the leader of Podemos in
Catalonia, for not informing the party leadership on how to vote on the
Declaration of Independence in the Catalan Parliament. One member has openly
said he voted for independence, while Fachin has not revealed how he voted on
October 27. At the same time, Podemos announced that it should now consult the
party's grass roots in Catalonia to determine what strategy to have before the
December elections. Party leader Pablo Iglesias says in a statement that he
believes that Carles Puigdemont's government has a mandate to govern Catalonia,
not to proclaim independence,
Great manifestation for Spanish unity
Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrate against Catalonia's independence
in Barcelona. Police say around 300,000 people attend, while organizers mention
a higher figure: 1.3 million.
Catalonia's deposed leader does not give up
The government of Madrid continues its takeover of power in Catalonia. The
head of the Catalan police, Mossos d'Esquadra, is dismissed, but the deposed
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont refuses to give up. He holds on to his title as
President of Catalonia and calls on the Catalans to "democratic resistance" to
Madrid's rule. Formally, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría has
now taken over the rule of Catalonia. In Madrid, thousands of people gather to
demonstrate for Spain's unity. Participants demand, among other things, that
Puigdemont be imprisoned.
Spain cancels Catalonia's autonomy and announces new elections
Less than an hour after Catalonia's declaration of independence, the Spanish
parliament's House of Representatives, the Senate, votes to activate Article 155
of the Constitution, which allows Spain to lift Catalonia's autonomy and take
direct control of the region. In the evening, Prime Minister Rajoy dissolves the
Catalan Parliament, dismisses Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and his
government, and announces new elections in Catalonia until December 21. Deputy
Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria will be responsible for Catalonia
Catalonia's parliament adopts declaration of independence
The Catalan Parliament adopts a proposal to proclaim Catalonia's
independence. 70 members vote for and 10 against. Most members of the opposition
boycott the vote. When the Catalans' decision becomes known, Spain's Prime
Minister Rajoy sends out a twitter message in which he calls for calm and
announces that the order should be restored in Catalonia. The EU remains
committed to supporting Spain in the conflict. In a commentary on the Catalan
Declaration of Independence, European Council President Donald Tusk says that
nothing has changed for the EU and that Madrid remains the organization's only
interlocutor. The United Kingdom, France, Germany and the US also show their
support for the Madrid government, while the President of the European
Parliament tweets that no country in the EU will recognize Catalonia's
Puigdemont under severe pressure
During the day there are rumors that Catalan President Carles Puigdemont will
declare Catalonia's independence before the Spanish Senate repeals the region's
autonomy. It is also speculated that he will announce new elections in the
region until December. But the figure promised is postponed several times, and
when Puigdemont appears, he says it is the Catalan parliament's decision to
decide what the consequences will be if Madrid activates Article 155. He
emphasizes that he has received no guarantees from the Spanish government that
it should not take control of the region if it announces new elections. The
pressure on Puigdemont is fierce, as the left-wing ERC has threatened to
withdraw its support for the Catalan government if it decides to dissolve
parliament and call elections.
Rajoy plans new elections in Catalonia
Prime Minister Rajoy announces that he intends to use Article 155 to dismiss
the entire Catalan government and announce new elections within six months. The
government of Catalonia will be managed by the ministries of Madrid. The Spanish
government will take control of the region's finances and taxes as well as the
Catalan police, Mossos, and the TV channel TV3. Rajoy says this does not mean
that Catalan self-government is abolished. The Senate, in which the Prime
Minister's Party PP has a majority, will vote on the measures on October 27.
Carles Puigdemont responds by accusing the Spanish government of having targeted
the worst attack on Catalan democratic institutions since the days of dictator
Franco. However, he does not proclaim Catalonia's independence, which he
previously threatened if Madrid activates Article 155. Rajoy's line is defended
by the Socialist Party (PSOE) and Ciudadanos, but is heavily criticized by
Podemos and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV). In Barcelona, around 450,000
people gather to protest the Spanish government's decision. Since the referendum
on 1 October, 1,200 companies have moved their main residence from Catalonia to
other parts of Spain.
Continued locked location between Madrid and Barcelona
The positions between Barcelona and Madrid remain locked. Catalan President
Carles Puigdemont writes in a letter to Prime Minister Rajoy, which comes only
after the deadline expires, that he intends to announce the region's
independence in the Catalan parliament if Madrid does not agree to negotiations.
The only way to solve the crisis is through calls, he says. In order for the
Spanish government to activate Article 155, it must obtain Senate approval, so
it will take at least a few more days before the process of Madrid taking over
the rule of Catalonia can begin. No Spanish government has previously used
Article 155. The Spanish government says it has strong support from other
parties. A representative of the Socialist Party, however, says it has been won
over that the Rajoys government should act in proportion to the situation.
Separatist leaders are prosecuted
Two Catalan separatist leaders, Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart, from the
grassroots movements of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural
grabs respectively. They are being prosecuted for "rioting" and rioting in
connection with protests on September 20 when separatist supporters prevented
Guardia Civil police from entering a department building in central Barcelona.
The Madrid judge responsible for the case decides to keep them in custody until
the trial because, in her opinion, they are otherwise at risk of recidivism,
they may want to destroy evidence or try to escape. The men risk imprisonment
between 10 and 15 years. Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart's supporters call for
protests and in Barcelona about 200,000 protesters gather. Protests also occur
in Girona and Reus.
No clear message from Puigdemont
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy does not look to get the answer he wants
from Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont. Instead, he writes a letter stating that
he will spend the next two months initiating a dialogue with the Spanish
government to find a solution that all parties can agree on. The Spanish
government extends the deadline that Puigdemont has to change one day, to
October 19. A Madrid judge decides that Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero
should not be detained, but he is ordered to appear in court every 15 days and
surrender his passport.
Rajoy demands Catalonia's message
Prime Minister Rajoy calls on Catalan President Carles Puigdemont to clarify
within five days whether or not he has declared Catalonia's independence (and he
is given another three days to change if he claims to have declared an
independent state). It will be a difficult balancing act for Puigdemont: if he
says he has submitted a declaration of independence, the Spanish government will
learn to activate Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution and limit Catalan
autonomy, if he says he has not done so, it is likely that the coalition partner
Cup will jump off the regional government, which then falls. Socialist Party
leader Pedro Sánchez expresses his support for Rajoy's line, and says he has
agreed with the Prime Minister to review the Spanish constitution to discuss
Catalonia's future status in Spain.
Declaration of Catalan independence is delayed
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont appears before the regional parliament.
But the immediate declaration of independence many separatists have hoped for
will not. However, he signs a document declaring Catalonia's independence, but
does not allow the regional parliament to vote on it. Instead, he reopens for a
dialogue with Madrid, under international mediation. The Spanish government has
so far refused to agree to any negotiations, as long as the demand for
independence remains. According to media, Puigdemont should have been pressured
to proceed cautiously, including from within his own party and the EU. The
Catalan leader receives harsh criticism from the left, among others from the
coalition partner Cup and the youth movement Arran.
Great demonstration for Spanish unit in Barcelona
At least 350,000 people gather in Barcelona to show their support for a
united Spain. They wave banners with lyrics like "Together we are stronger" and
"Catalonia is Spain". Similar events were held the day before at other locations
in Spain. The police indicate the number of participants in Barcelona to
350,000, while the organizers claim that they were 950,000. At the same time, it
is clear that Catalonia must pay an economic price for the pursuit of
independence. Two major banks CaixaBank and Sabadell have already said that they
intend to move their headquarters from Barcelona. Several other companies are
considering doing the same.
The Constitutional Court intervenes again
The Constitutional Court puts obstacles in the way of the Catalan
parliament's session on October 9, when it is likely to present a declaration of
independence. This has happened since the Catalan Socialist Party turned to the
court. The Court justified its decision that it would be wrong to allow such a
vote, as it would run counter to the rights of the Socialist Party MPs.
Crime investigation begins against regional police chief
A Madrid court is launching criminal investigations into rioting against the
head of regional police Mossos d'Esquadra, chairmen of two grassroots movements
Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart, from the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and
Omnium Cultural respectively.
King Felipe calls for agreement
King Felipe VI gives a speech to the nation in which he calls for unity and
at the same time criticizes the Catalan leaders whom he thinks are acting
undemocratically and without following the law, thus creating problems for the
Spanish economy. On the same day, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont says that
Catalonia will soon declare its independence.
Rajoy in crisis talks with opposition leaders
Prime Minister Rajoy met the leaders of the Socialist Party and Ciudadanos
for a crisis talk on the situation in Catalonia. There is speculation as to
whether the Spanish government will activate Article 155 of the Constitution to
abolish Catalan autonomy, thus preventing a declaration of independence. After
the meeting, the Socialist Party urges the government to start a dialogue with
Catalonia, while Ciudadanos wants Catalan self-government to be lifted. Spanish
newspapers criticize Catalan leader Puigdemont for having, despite court
rulings, pushed through the referendum, but they are also critical of the
passive way the government has handled the situation, where Rajoy's strategy is
described as "to wait and see what happens." Within his own party, more and more
people are demanding a hard line against the independence aspirations of
Catalonia. At the same time strikes are going on in Catalonia and in several
places roadblocks have been set up causing major traffic jams. All work in the
port of Barcelona is down and schools and universities are closed.
The conflict between Barcelona and Madrid is being stepped up
The Barcelona-Madrid conflict appears to be further tightened. Catalan leader
Carles Puigdemont says that with the referendum on October 1, Catalan voters won
the right to an independent state and that the next step will be taken by the
Catalan parliament. According to Catalan authorities, 90 percent of voters had
voted for independence. The turnout was just over 42 percent. Puigdemont demands
that the state police forces be withdrawn and at the same time appeal to the EU
countries to mediate in the Madrid-Barcelona conflict. Spanish Prime Minister
Mariano Rajoy, for his part, says the Catalans have been tricked into taking an
illegal vote. Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau urges Rajoy to step down because of the
violence surrounding the vote. In Madrid, government critics gather in a
manifestation demanding the same. Some 40 unions and other organizations in
Catalonia are calling for a strike to protest against police violence. The
European Commission states in a statement that the Catalan referendum was not
legal under the Spanish constitution, but at the same time urges the parties to
enter into a dialogue.
Brutal police intervention in voting in Catalonia
The referendum in Catalonia is being held as planned, despite being banned by
the court. In many places, police - the national police and the Guardia Civil -
intervene to prevent people from voting. In central Barcelona, the national
police fire rubber bullets to disperse people. Images are also spread of how the
riot police enter a polling station in Gerona and strike voters with batons.
Several hundred people are injured, most mildly, in connection with the police
intervention. Some 30 police officers are also injured (later the Spanish
Ministry of the Interior claims that the number is significantly higher, but
none of them should have received injuries requiring hospital care). The Mossos
regional police force does not participate in attempts to prevent people from
voting, despite being ordered by the court to do so. According to the Catalan
government, 73 percent of the polling stations have been kept open, despite the
Spanish authorities' attempts to stop the vote. Prime Minister Rajoy said in a
speech late in the evening that no referendum has been held in Catalonia and
that he has done what he could to enforce the law. He believes that the violence
that has taken place is the responsibility of Catalan President Puigdemont. In
Barcelona, separatist supporters gather in the city's central parts, waving
flags and singing Catalan songs. But even opponents of a Catalan outbreak are
conducting events in Barcelona and other Spanish cities.
New measures are being taken to stop the referendum
The Prosecutor's Office in Catalonia orders the police to shut down buildings
intended to be used as polling stations in the planned referendum. Prosecutors
have also said that Catalan mayors, school and university leaders risk fines if
they leave premises for the referendum. Almost 60 websites with information on
the referendum have been closed, and another 80 are about to be closed. Prime
Minister Rajoy decides not to go to the EU summit but stays in Madrid.
Madrid and Barcelona quarrel over police forces
A quarrel breaks out over who should be in control of the Mossos regional
police force. The Spanish government decides that a La Guardia Civilian
commander should coordinate the work of the various police forces in Catalonia,
something the Catalan government refuses to agree to. At the same time, the
national police send reinforcements to Catalonia.
The Constitutional Court fines Catalan politicians
The Constitutional Court decides to fine 10 or so high-ranking Catalan
politicians and officials. Six of them are requested to be fined € 12,000 per
day, as long as they continue to organize the prohibited referendum. This
includes Josep Maria Jové, number two at the Catalan Ministry of Finance and
five members of the Catalan Electoral Commission. Others risk paying € 6,000 in
fines per day. The members of the Catalan Election Commission resign a few days
later to avoid being fined. Meanwhile, in an interview in the British Times
Financial Times, Spanish Finance Minister Luis de Guindos says Madrid is ready
to negotiate to give Catalonia greater financial freedom if the Catalan
government cancels the referendum.
Madrid takes control of Catalonia's finances
The Spanish government is now serious about its threat to take control of
Catalonia's finances. Spain's regions pay taxes to the central government and
then receive a quota to pay for care, education and infrastructure. Catalonia
receives about 1.5 billion euros a month from Madrid. Madrid should also have
asked banks to monitor all transactions made on accounts and with credit cards
handled by Catalan leaders. Spanish police, Guardia Civil, raids several Catalan
ministries and searches for documents relating to the banned referendum. Nearly
10 million ballots are seized. Outside the Ministry of Economy, about 40,000
pro-separatists gather to try to stop them. Street protests are also breaking
out in several other places in Barcelona. About 10 people are arrested,
including Josep Maria Jové, a close associate of the region's vice president.
After a crisis meeting, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont insisted that the
referendum should be held as planned, saying that the Spanish government had in
effect lifted Catalonia's autonomy and issued a state of emergency in practice.
He also accuses Madrid of violating human rights. Prime Minister Rajoy, for his
part, says that the Spanish government is doing what it needs to do and will
continue to do so, and that the law must be respected.
The election campaign starts in Catalonia
Despite all attempts to stop the referendum on Catalan independence, the
election campaign is started. To mark this, 8,000 separatist supporters gather
in Tarragona to listen to Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, among others.
According to the Catalan government, 47,000 people have reported that they want
to help carry out the elections. The Separatists side is achieving success when
Barcelona's Mayor Ada Colau, who until now has not decided, says the election
will be held in the regional government's premises in the city.
The prosecutor threatens to seize over 700 pro-separatist mayors
Spanish Prosecutor José Manuel Maza launches criminal investigations against
712 Catalan mayors who say they will participate in preparations for the
referendum on October 1. Both the national police and the regional police,
Mossos d'Esquadra, have been called upon to arrest anyone who does not show up
when called for questioning. The Catalan government has asked all of the
region's 747 mayors to assist it with the premises, electoral justice and
anything else needed before the vote, despite a ruling in the Spanish
Constitutional Court. Prosecutors in Barcelona have responded by ordering the
police to seize all election material.
Hundreds of thousands in Catalan independence manifestation
Hundreds of thousands of Catalans gather in Barcelona to celebrate the
region's "national day" (la Diada). The celebration becomes a manifestation of
Catalan independence. According to the organizers, as many as 1 million people
participate, but the official figures are lower.
The Constitutional Court repeals Catalan referendum law
The Spanish Constitutional Court temporarily annulled the Catalan law that
would pave the way for a referendum on Catalonia's independence. The court says
it will investigate whether the law is in violation of the constitution. Prime
Minister Mariano Rajoy accuses the Catalan parliament of "unacceptable
disobedience" by adopting the law.
Madrid are pushing hard against Catalonia
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says he should turn to the Constitutional Court
to repeal the law that Catalonia established to hold a referendum on
independence. At the same time, the prosecutor is preparing a legal process
against leading members of the Catalan parliament for allowing the vote on the
Catalonia's parliament approves the referendum on independence
The Catalan Parliament votes to approve the legislation needed to hold a
referendum on independence on 1 October. 72 out of 135 members vote yes and 11
abstain. 52 members from the regional branches of the PP, the Socialist Party
and Ciudadanos leave the House before the vote. Under the new law, Catalonia
must, in a yes to an independent state, proclaim its independence within 48
hours. In February, the Spanish Constitutional Court ruled that a referendum on
Catalan independence was contrary to the Constitution.
Anti-Muslim sentiments after the terrorist act
Following the terrorist attacks in Catalonia, the number of Islamophobic
incidents has risen sharply, not least in social media. Hateful anti-Muslim
messages were spread at mosques in Granada, Madrid, Seville and Tarragona, among
others. Four days after the attack, 2,500 Muslims demonstrated in Barcelona to
distance themselves from the death. A similar manifestation was held in Madrid.
Mass protest against the terror
About half a million people gather in Barcelona to mark their resistance to
terrorism. King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy participate in the
manifestation, but meet from some quarters with burope and whistles. The
terrorist act is increasingly becoming a pillar in the political game between
Barcelona and Madrid. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont says, among other
things, that the Spanish government has undermined the security of Catalonia
through too low funding for the local police. According to Puigdemont, Madrid
has prevented more police officers from being hired and not given the Catalan
police access to Europol information. The Catalan police, for their part, have
been criticized for not passing on warnings from Belgian police about Abdelbaki
Es Satty, the imam who is believed to have played a leading role in the
terrorist attacks. Other political voices urge Catalonia to abandon the plans
for a referendum on independence to strengthen national unity in a time of
crisis. Opinion polls indicate that the Independents will not be able to win the
referendum, which is scheduled to be held on October 1.
Fair to honor the victims of the terror
20th of August
To honor the victims, King Felipe, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Catalan
President Carles Puigdemont and the mayors of Barcelona, Madrid and Cambrils
will attend a mass at the Sagrada Família Cathedral. Many people also gather for
a quiet minute in a square near Ramblas. The day before, Rajoy has announced
three days of national grief. The political contradictions between Barcelona and
Madrid quickly become visible after the terrorist act. When Rajoy and Puigdemont
appear together at a press conference, the Catalan politician says that the
terrorist act should not be used for political gain and that the planned
referendum should be carried out as planned. It is also noted that Catalan
Interior Minister Joaquím Forn said in a TV interview that two of the victims
were Spanish nationals and two were Catalans. The level of security in Spain is
not raised, but remains at 4 on a 5-degree scale. Catalonia and Barcelona are,
according to analysts, the center of the militant Islamists found in Spain.
Police kill five suspected terrorists
Police say five men of Moroccan background have been shot dead who are
suspected of preparing a new terrorist act in the Catalan coastal city of
Cambrils just seven miles south of Barcelona. Six civilians and a police officer
are injured when the men drive them with their car. A woman dies from her
injuries. Police say the incident is linked to the Barcelona act the day before.
The same applies to an explosion in a house in the city of Alcanar, where at
least one person perished, according to police as he / she was preparing
explosive charges. The explosion was initially believed to have been triggered
by a gas leak. The five men are suspected to have belonged to a group of twelve
men who had prepared several terrorist attacks for six months. Another man, who
is believed to have carried out the attack in Barcelona, was later shot dead
(August 21) by police. Several people from the group, Among other things, an
imam who appears to have had a leading role is believed to have died in a blast
accident before the death. Four people have been arrested, suspected of
involvement in the attacks. Another man is killed when one of the suspected
terrorists hijacks a car after the Barcelona attack.
13 people are killed in suspected terrorist act in Barcelona
13 people are killed and about 100 injured when a van drives on them on the
large tourist route Ramblas in Barcelona. Three people, including a Moroccan
citizen and a Spanish citizen born in the Melilla exclave, are arrested for
involvement in the act. Many of the victims are tourists. Those killed and
injured belong to some 30 different nationalities. The Islamic State terrorist
organization (IS) assumes responsibility for the act, but presents no evidence
that it is involved. Spain has hundreds of soldiers in Iraq to train Iraqi
forces for action against IS, but does not participate in any ground operations.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy calls the deed in Barcelona a "jihadist attack". He
also announces a three-day mourning period.
The government is trying to stop the Catalan referendum
The Madrid government submits a request for the Constitutional Court to ban
Catalonia's regional assembly attempting to organize a referendum on
independence on October 1. The government has warned the Catalans that some
government grants will be withdrawn if they use public funds for the referendum.
Catalan rapid laws for independence
The separatist majority in the Catalan regional parliament is enforcing a law
that can speed up legislative work. This is intended to facilitate attempts to
separate Catalonia from the Spanish judiciary, which would make it more
difficult for the Spanish authorities to prevent separatists from organizing a
referendum on independence. The Catalan opposition accuses the separatists of
violating democratic principles.
Rajoy testifies in court
Prime Minister Rajoy says in a Madrid court that he did not know that there
would have been any illegal financing within his party PP. This is the first
time a sitting Spanish government official has been called to testify in a
criminal trial. Rajoy says it was never his job to deal with the party's
finances. He is not himself charged with any crime.
Promises of a quick declaration of independence on the Catalans vote yes in
Catalonia's governing alliance presents a bill that states that the region
will proclaim its independence within 48 hours if the yes side wins in the
referendum in October. At the same time, Puigdemont dismisses a highly regarded
member of the regional board who questioned the wisdom of the plans to hold a
Puigdemont announces referendum on Catalan independence
Catalonia's President Carles Puigdemont announces a referendum on
independence for the region until October 1. According to Puigdemont, the
Catalans should decide on the question: do you want Catalonia to be an
independent state in the form of a republic?
ETA completes disarmament
The Basque separatist group ETA is now leaving the last of its weapons. In
conjunction with it, a ceremony is held in the French town of Bayonne. The
weapons are to be found in eight different hiding places and the authorities
have been given information about where they are located. ETA is still said to
have around 100 members who oppose disarmament.
Catalonia is budgeting for a referendum
Catalonia's parliament, which is dominated by independence-loving parties,
adopts a budget that includes the cost of a referendum on independence.
Mas doomed and turned off
the 13th of March
Former Catalan President Artur Mas is convicted of civil disobedience and
banned from holding a public office for two years. He is being punished for
organizing an illegal referendum on independence in 2014.
Setbacks for separatists
A legal council that acts as a constitutional court for Catalonia states that
the regional government does not have the right to call a referendum on
Catalonia's independence. The Council, which is the regional government's
foremost advisory body on legal issues, makes a unanimous decision despite half
of its members being appointed by separatist parties. The Council is of the
opinion that only the Spanish State can call for a referendum.
Conversation between Madrid and Barcelona?
The Spanish government states that in recent weeks it has held talks with the
Catalan government, which is, however, denied in Barcelona. Recently, the Madrid
government has made several statements that it wants to find a solution to the
Catalan issue. In the spring of 2016, the Catalan government sent a list of
requirements that it wants the Spanish government to fulfill. The first of these
was a binding referendum on independence, something Madrid can hardly agree to.
But there were also demands for new investments in infrastructure and higher
allocations to the regions.
Protesters demand that Spain receive more refugees
Around 160,000 people are demonstrating in Barcelona demanding that Spain
receive more refugees from war-affected areas. The protesters are critical,
among other things, that only 1,100 of the 17,000 refugees promised by the
Spanish government in 2015 for a two-year period.
The king's brother-in-law is sentenced to prison for corruption
Iñaki Urdangarin, who is married to King Felipe's sister Cristina, is
sentenced to corruption and sentenced to six years and three months in prison.
Princess Cristina, who is being prosecuted for tax offenses, was released from
all criminal offenses, but she is still ordered to pay a fine of 265,000 euros.
Both Rajoy and Iglesias remain as party leaders
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is re-elected as leader of the PP with almost 96
percent of the vote. However, he lacks counter-candidates. In his speech after
the victory, he emphasizes the importance of the party being open to new
reforms. Pablo Iglesias is also re-elected with a clear majority (89 percent) as
party leader for Podemos. This happens despite strong tensions between the
faction that supports Iglesias and the one behind his counterpart Iñigo Errejón.
The latter stands for a more pragmatic political line than Iglesia and can
imagine a political collaboration with the PSOE. Disagreement also arises as to
whether Podemos should continue its cooperation with the United Left, which
Iglesisas wants. This despite the fact that the party appeared to have lost many
voters because of the cooperation.
Hundreds of migrants are trying to get to Ceuta
At least 800 migrants (1,100 according to the Spanish authorities) are trying
to cross the six-meter-high fences to the Spanish exclave Ceuta in North Africa.
A large number of people are arrested. All but two, who need hospital care, are
sent back to Morocco, where, according to the Moroccan authorities, they must be
brought to justice. Human rights organizations have criticized Spain for
immediately sending people back to Morocco, thereby depriving them of the
opportunity to seek political asylum.