Key Dates in Catalonia's Push for Independence
The Catalan government signed a decree on Wednesday calling an independence referendum on October 1, which Madrid has vowed to stop.
Here are the key dates in the history of the wealthy Spanish region's independence drive.
- 2006 -March: Catalans approve a new autonomy charter, negotiated with the Socialist government and approved by the national parliament, increasing their fiscal and judicial powers and describing Catalonia as a "nation".
July: Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative Popular Party (PP), which has only marginal support in Catalonia, appeals the autonomy charter, accusing it of "privileging" Catalonia.
- 2010 -June: Spain's Constitutional Court strikes down parts of the 2006 autonomy charter in response to the PP's appeal. It rules that the word "nation" to describe the region has "no legal value" and rejects the "preferential" use of the Catalan language in municipal services.
July: Hundreds of thousands of people protest in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, against the court ruling amid chants of "We are a nation, we decide".
- 2012 -September 11: At the height of Spain's economic crisis, more than a million people protest in Barcelona demanding independence for Catalonia.
Major demonstrations are held in the following years on the same date, marking Catalonia's national day.
September 20: Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy rejects Catalan President Artur Mas's call for greater tax-and-spend powers for the region. Five days later, Mas calls a snap regional election promising to hold a referendum on Catalonia's future.
November 26: Mas's centre-right CiU alliance wins the snap election overall but fails to secure an absolute majority in the regional parliament.
- 2013 -September 11: Hundreds of thousands of Catalans join hands to form a human chain stretching more than 400 kilometres (250 miles) across the Mediterranean coast to push for independence.
- 2014 -November 9: Catalonia defies Madrid and presses ahead with a symbolic vote on independence. Turnout is just 37 percent, of which over 80 percent -- 1.8 million people -- vote in favour of independence.
- 2015 -September 27: The pro-independence Together For Yes alliance secures 62 seats in the regional assembly and the radical leftwing separatist group CUP wins 10, giving them an absolute majority.
But the separatist block falls short of winning a majority of votes in the election, which is portrayed as a proxy vote on independence, capturing just 47.8 percent of the ballot.
November 9: All 72 pro-independence lawmakers in the Catalan parliament -- the majority -- vote for a resolution that kicks off the process to secede from Spain. The country's Constitutional Court will later strike it down.
- 2016 -January 10: A longtime separatist, Carles Puigdemont, becomes president of Catalonia.
- 2017 -March: Former Catalan president Artur Mas is found guilty of "disobedience" for staging the symbolic independence referendum in 2014 even after it was banned by Spain's Constitutional Court. He is banned from holding public office for two years.
June: Puigdemont announces a referendum on independence to be held in Catalonia on October 1 with the following question posed to voters: "Do you want Catalonia to be an independent country in the form of a republic?" Spain's central government says it will block the referendum.
July: Puigdemont dismisses a member of his regional government who had raised doubts about the viability of the referendum. Three other members of his government whose support for the vote was in doubt also step down, as does the head of the regional Catalan police.
Rajoy accuses the Catalan government of harbouring "authoritarian delusions".