History of Catalonia, Spain

The Franco dictatorship reinforced the Catalans’ desire for autonomy. In 1965, the Catholic Church recognized Catalan as the language of church and liturgy alongside Spanish. After the death of Franco in 1977 the “Generalitat” was restored in the course of democratization, an extended statute of autonomy was passed in 1979 and in 1980, after the first autonomous elections, Jordi Pujol was elected as the new President of Catalonia (re-elected in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1995 and 1999). His coalition “Convergència i Unió” (CiU; German convergence and union) also gained influence throughout Spain in the following years.

In June 2006, a referendum passed a reform of the Statute of Autonomy, which, among other things, defines the Catalans as a »nation«. In 2010 the Spanish Constitutional Court rejected parts of the statute as unconstitutional. The Catalans reacted with a mass demonstration with a clearly separatist orientation. On January 23, 2013, in preparation for an independence referendum, the Catalan Parliament adopted a declaration that affirmed the political sovereignty of Catalonia. On September 11, 2013, hundreds of thousands demonstrated in Barcelona for an independent Catalonia. The plans announced in December 2013 to hold an independence referendum on November 9, 2014, met with resistance from the Spanish central government. Was upheld by the Spanish Constitutional Court in 2014. As a result, the Catalan regional government canceled the referendum, but carried out a symbolic referendum on November 9, 2014, in which, according to the Catalan authorities, more than 80% of the participants were in favor of the region’s independence.

In the early regional elections on September 20, 2015, the pro-independence party alliance »Junts pel Sí« (German: Together for Yes) under the leadership of the »Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya« (CDC; Democratic Convergence of Catalonia) won by Artur Mas i Gavarró (* 1956) 62 of 135 seats in the regional parliament. With the 10 seats of the socialist “Candidatura d’Unitat Popular” (CUP; German candidacy of the people’s unity), the separatist forces achieved an absolute majority of the seats. On November 9, 2015, Parliament passed a resolution to initiate the independence process by 72 votes out of 135, which the Spanish Constitutional Court declared illegal on November 11, 2015. The formation of a new Catalan government proved difficult, as the CUP refused a new presidency of A. Mas. He finally decided not to run. On January 10, 2016, the members of the regional parliament elected Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó, CDC politician and Mayor of Girona as the new President of Catalonia. The Partit Demòcrata Europeu Català (PDeCAT; German Catalan European Democratic Party) was founded in July 2016 as the successor organization to the CDC.

Against the resistance of the central government and despite a ban by the Constitutional Court, the Puigdemont government organized a referendum on the independence of Catalonia on October 1, 2017. According to the regional government, around 42% of those eligible to vote took part in the vote, of which around 90% were in favor of independence. The referendum was overshadowed by a massive police operation aimed at preventing the vote. Protest demonstrations and strikes took place in Catalonia on October 3, 2017, in response to the violence of the national security forces, which resulted in hundreds of injuries. Opponents of a split held a large demonstration in Barcelona on October 8, 2017. Catalan President C. Puigdemont In a speech before the Catalan Parliament on October 10, 2017, recognized the referendum result as a mandate to realize the sovereignty of Catalonia, but at the same time suggested that the entry into force of the declaration of independence be suspended in order to be able to open a negotiating dialogue with the Spanish central government. However, this dialogue did not materialize.

On October 27, 2017, the Catalan Parliament finally voted for independence. The opposition boycotted the vote. Shortly after this decision, the Spanish Senate, at the request of the Spanish government, approved the application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, thus enabling the removal of the Catalan government, the disempowerment of the Catalan parliament and the holding of new elections in Catalonia. Against the deposed Catalan President C. Puigdemont and other members of the government were charged, inter alia. charged for rebellion and rebellion against state authority. By leaving for Brussels, Puigdemont avoided direct prosecution by the Spanish judicial authorities. On November 5, 2017, he surrendered to the Belgian judiciary. In the new elections on December 21, 2017, the prospective party »Ciudadanos« (C’s; German citizens) became the strongest parliamentary force, the separatist groups »Junts pel Catalunya« (JuntsxCat; German Common for Catalonia; election platform under the leadership of PDeCAT), The CUP and the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya party (ERC; German Republican Left of Catalonia) defended the absolute majority in the mandate. After attempts by the separatists, Puigdemont To confirm his position in absentia or to elect a successor to the presidency, failed due to the resistance of the Spanish central government,  Puigdemont renounced the office of Catalan regional president at the beginning of May 2018 and suggested the lawyer Joaquim “Quim” Torra i Pla (* 1962) as his own Successor before. Torra, who is considered a hardliner, was elected regional president on May 14th with a narrow majority. He took office on June 2, after the central government had approved his cabinet list. This also ended the forced administration by Madrid.

Successor to Pujol in the presidency: 2003–06 Pasqual Maragall i Mira (* 1941; socialist); 2006-10 José Montilla Aguilera (* 1955; socialist); 2010–16 Artur Mas i Gavarró; 2016/17 Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó; 2018 Joaquim “Quim” Torra i Pla (* 1962).

History of Catalonia, Spain

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