Catalonia Headlines for October 2017

The Aftermath of the Referendum on Catalan Independence

Everything that has happened in October 2017 in Catalonia has been in someway connected to the referendum on Catalan independence on Oct 1st. I have decided to use headlines from Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia to tell the story of what happened in the month.

I may add other newspapers as the project progresses but the page reflects many of my personal perceptions of what happened because, out of circumstance rather than choice, I read La Vanguardia every day as it is the newspaper available in the bar in Barcelona where I have breakfast.


  • Sunday October 1st: Facing the Challenge of the Referendum After months of waiting, the big day had finally come and the referendum on Catalonia's independence from Spain was about to go ahead. Voters were planning to get to the polling stations early in the morning to stop them from being forcibly closed by police.
  • Monday October 2nd: Spanish Government Represses October 1st In most places people who wanted to were able to vote but in a large number of polling stations across Catalonia the Spanish National Police and Civil Guard attacked voters with a much greater level of violence than had been expected.
  • Tuesday October 3rd: The EU calls for dialogue over Catalonia for the first time The images of Spanish police violence against Catalan voters shown around the world finally brought the EU to call for dialogue within the Spanish Constitution. Similar sentiments were echoed by PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez and the Barcelona Law Society. However, Albert Rivera, the leader of Ciudadanos, the Citizens party, called for the application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which would mean the suspension of the autonomous government of Catalonia.
  • Wednesday October 4th: The King encourages everyone to defend ideas within the law Tuesday was the day of the General Strike against police violence and in favour of independence and in my opinion was, in many ways, as important as the the referendum because it showed the peaceful resolve of the Catalan people. There were demonstrations in every town in Catalonia with 700,000 people on the streets of Barcelona alone. Significant that the often complicit La Vanguardia demoted the strike to to the bottom of the page and led with the speech by the King of Spain, Felipe VI, which had been little more than a propaganda exercise by the Spanish Government.
  • Thursday October 5th: The Catalan crisis sinks the stock market and makes the debt more expensive Just three days after the referendum, the campaign of fear had begun in earnest and newspapers began to warn of imminent economic collapse. Meanwhile, the Chief of the Catalan police, the Mossos d'Esquadra, Josep Lluís Trapero, and the leaders of the pro-independence organisations, Jordi Sànchez for the Catalan National Assembly, and Jordi Cuixart for Òmnium Cultural, were called to appear before the Spanish high court, the Audiencia Nacional.
  • Friday October 6th: CaixaBank and Sabadell move their head offices out of fear of a UDI The two main Catalan banks, CaixaBank and Banc Sabadell, announced that they would be moving there headquarters out of Catalonia to Palma de Mallorca and Alicante respectively. More rumours of a collapse in the tourist industry began spreading. Meanwhile, Mariano Rajoy said that dialogue would only begin if there was a return to legality and the Constitutional Court suspended the parliamentary session that was meant to debate and vote on the results of the referendum.
  • Saturday October 7th: Gas Natural follows the trail of the banks and moves its head office to Madrid Gas Natural followed the trail of the banks and moved its head office to Madrid. More rumours of economic collapse began as cases against the chief of the Catalan police, Josep Lluís Trapero, and the leaders of the ANC and Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, began to take shape in Madrid.
  • Sunday October 8th: In extremis offensive against the UDI by Catalan economic powers There were more predictions of doom, gloom and economic collapse should the Catalan government decide to proceed with the Unilateral Declaration of Independence.
  • Monday October 9th: The No to independence comes out massively onto the streets The previously day had seen the first massive pro-Unionist demonstration, which brought hundreds of thousands of people out onto the streets of Barcelona in support of Catalonia remaining as part of Spain. It was clear that Catalan society was divided into two camps.
  • Tuesday October 10th: Clamour to stop UDI There was a general outcry to stop Carles Puigdemont from making a UDI not only from the Spanish Government and Unionists in Catalonia but also from the fence-sitting far left parties in Catalonia, who support a referendum but not independence, and even from more moderate sectors within the independence movement.
  • Wednesday October 11th: Puigdemont suspends independence after announcing it In his long-awaited address to the Parliament of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, announced that as a result of the democratic mandate gained in the referendum the Catalan people had a right to declare independence from Spain but just 8 seconds later said that he would be suspending the effect of the declaration in order to allow time for dialogue. At the end of the session, all the members of the pro-independence Junts pel Sí and the CUP signed a declaration document.
  • Thursday October 12th: Rajoy announces 155 but gives Puigdemont time The Spanish Government began the process of invoking Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which would effectively move the Catalan Government from power, but gave Carles Puigdemont time in order until the following Monday to clarify whether he had made a Declaration of Independence or not.
  • Friday October 13th: PP and PSOE are confident that Puigdemont will make dialogue possible October 12th is Spain National Day and was an opportunity for calls to Spanish unity across Spain but particularly in Catalonia, where Barcelona hosted the most multitudinous rallies in living memory. Throughout the day, both Partido Popular and PSOE leaders expressed their confidence that Puigdemont would back down and retract the Declaration of Independence.
  • Saturday October 14th: Expectations of growth for Catalonia will reduce With the deadline for Carles Puigdemont's clarification on whether independence was declared last Tuesday or not approaching, the mainstream media's fear campaign was stepping up a notch. It was all doom and gloom with a reduction in economic growth and questions about the World Mobile Congress leaving plus divisions amongst pro-independence groups and questions about a UDI.
  • Sunday October 15th: Puigdemont gambles losing self-government Catalonia was facing another precipice moment as the deadline for Catalan President Carles Puigdemont's ratification or retraction of last Tuesday's declaration of independence and its subsequent suspension loomed. It seemed likely that he would make another euphemistic statement, which Mariano Rajoy would interpret as an excuse to invoke Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution and suspend the autonomous government of Catalonia. 
  • Monday October 16th: Rajoy rejects ambiguous response from Puigdemont Even before Puigdemont the mainstream media predicted he wouldn't fully retract and that this would lead Mariano Rajoy to take this as an excuse to invoke Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution and suspend the autonomous government of Catalonia. A new round of Catalan elections before Christmas seemed the most likely consequence of the invocation.
  • Tuesday October 17th: Sànchez and Cuixart enter prison accused of sedition The decision of the Spanish judge to send independence leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart of the Catalan National Assembly and Òmnium Cultural to prison without bail accused of seditioncaptured the headlines. Carles Puigdemont and Julian Assange described them as political prisoners. Josep Lluís Trapero, Chief of the Catalan Police, was allowed home on the understanding that he would hand in his passport and make an appearance at court every 15 days.
  • Wednesday October 18th: Spanish government plans to run Catalan ministries from Madrid As the triggering of Article 155 approached, details were revealed of what it would involve while at the same time, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont was considering a UDI followed by constituent elections. There were mass demonstrations across Catalonia demanding the release of ANC and Òmnium leaders, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, including a massive candlelit vigil in Barcelona involving tens of thousands of people. 
  • Thursday October 19th: Puigdemont warns that the UDI will become a reality if Article 155 is applied Another key moment in the relationship between Catalonia and Spain approached as the second deadline for Carles Puigdemont to retract last week's declaration of independence expired at 10 am that morning. It seemed unlikely that Puigdemont would retract and this would mean that the Spanish government would start the process invoking Article 155 of the Constitution. This in turn would provoke the Catalan pro-independence parties to formalise the declaration of independence and the process would finally move into completely unknown territory.
  • Friday October 20th: Rajoy begins the intervention of the Catalan government Rajoy prepared to trigger Article 155 and take over control of the government powers of the Generalitat of Catalonia at a Council of Ministers meeting. Junts pel Sí and the CUP consider how to vote on independence in a plenary session.
  • Saturday October 21st: 155 will affect Economy, Mossos and Public Media Mariano Rajoy and Pedro Sánchez agreed that the invocation of Article 155 would affect the Catalan Economy Ministry, the Mossos and Public Media companies and that the intervention would culminate in Catalan elections probably in January.
  • Sunday October 22nd: Rajoy announces the suspension of Catalan government and Puigdemont calls Parliament The Catalan crisis stepped up a gear as Rajoy invoked Article 155, effectively suspending the Generalitat, and announced that he would call elections within six months. Puigdemont described it as the worst attack since the decrees of Franco and called Parliament to vote on the Declaration of Independence. The previous day 450,000 people rallied in Barcelona to protest about the incarceration of the Jordis and the invocation of 155. 
  • Monday October 23rd: Two out of three companies that leave Catalonia go to Madrid As the Catalan government planned its response to Article 155, La Vanguardia led with companies leaving Catalonia for Madrid. The imposition of Article 155 was causing divisions amongst the Catalan socialists of PSC and the Catalan crisis was having wider reaching consequences and provoking more problems for the EU as Northern Italy demanded more competencies and resources.
  • Tuesday October 24th: Puigdemont to refute 155 in Senate It appeared that Puigdemont was considering attending the Senate to argue Catalonia's case. This would probably happen on Thursday when there was also a plenary session scheduled in the Parliament of Catalonia. At the same, the EU expressed support for whatever decision Rajoy took because it was in agreement in the Spanish Constitution.
  • Wednesday October 25th: Division in Catalan Government between calling elections and UDI There seemed to be divisions in the Catalan government over whether to call elections or declare a UDI, while Rajoy stated that Article 155 would be applied whether there were elections or not. The possibility of a face to face meeting between Puigdemont and Rajoy in the Senate was looking increasingly likely.
  • Thursday October 26th: The radical sector pushes Puigdemont towards a UDI Puigdemont finally decided not to attend the Senate in Madrid preferring to lead the parliamentary plenary session in Barcelona where it was becoming more likely that a UDI would be declared either on Friday or Saturday.
  • Friday October 27th: Puigdemont insists on the UDI and heads towards an intervention In the strangest day in Catalan politics ever, Puigdemont made a morning statement proposing calling elections on the understanding that the invocation of Article 155 would be withdrawn. The PP countered by announcing that they would continue with the suspension of the Generalitat's powers. Consequently, Puigdemont retracted the offer of elections making a UDI almost inevitable.
  • Saturday October 28th: Rajoy intervenes in the government to call elections on December 21st In a completely surreal front page, La Vanguardia leads with Spain's application of 155 and forthcoming elections rather than the declaration of independence. It was almost as if the UDI hadn't happened.
  • Sunday October 29th: Central government effectively takes control of the Generalitat La Vanguardia maintained the Spanish government line and continued saying that the Generalitat had been taken over. This wasn't the impression Puigdemont gave in a statement he made from his home town of Girona.
  • Monday October 30th: PDECat and ERC accept that they must take part on December 21st The pro-independence political parties appeared to be preparing to take part in the elections on December 21st. The so-called 'Chiefs of Staff of the independence movement had had a strategy meeting in Northern Catalonia the previous day.
  • Tuesday October 31st: Puigdemont seeks advice in Brussels to ask for asylum The hopes of Catalan independence seemed dashed. President Puigdemont had fled to Brussels with five other ministers as the Spanish judiciary planned to charge the Catalan Government for rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of public funds. The remaining members of the Catalan government in Barcelona began gearing up to fight the Autonomous elections on December 21st.

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