+34 is the dialing code for Spain.
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.
- Abbreviationfinder: Brief profiles of Spain, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
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 Mediterranean coast.
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.
|Cultivated land||54.1 %|
|Land area||505370 km 2|
Population and health
|Population development||0.89 ‰|
|Urban population (Urbanization)||79.6 %|
|Death rate||9.04 per 1000 residents|
|Life expectancy: Women||84.77 years|
|Life expectancy: Men||78.57 years|
|Birth rate||9.64 births per 1000 residents|
|Infant mortality||3.3 deaths / 1000 births|
Population Graph Source: Countryaah.com
|Electricity, production||280000 million kWh|
|Energy consumption per inhabitant||2500.2 kg. oil per resident|
|Natural gas, production||24 million cubic meters|
|Crude oil, production||million tons|
|Internet users||74.4 per 100 residents|
|Mobile subscriptions||106 per 100 residents|
|Passenger cars||593 per 1000 residents|
Business and economics
|Unemployment||22.5% of the workforce|
|GDP||34800 per resident|
|Primary occupations||7 %|
|Secondary profession||29 %|
|Tertiary professions||64 %|
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 residents
Madrid 3,233,000 (Sources: Allcitypopulation.com)
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 30.
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 Court.
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 former ministers
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 investigated together.
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 granted bail.
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 until then.
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 independence.
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 new law.
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 October
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 referendum.
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.