Catalonia should hold a new vote on independence from Spain within two years, the head of the region's government said on Thursday in a fresh challenge to Madrid following days of unrest by pro-separatist protesters.
The leaders of all of Spain's main political parties invited their supporters on Friday night to prepare for power, as campaigning for one of the tightest national elections in decades drew to a close. No single party will get an overall majority in Sunday's ballot, and opinion polls suggest all five leading contenders have a realistic chance of playing a role in government.
Spain's outgoing prime minister faced an onslaught of criticism on Monday from his right-wing rivals over Catalonia's secession crisis in a testy four-way debate ahead of elections, while he warned them against cosying up to the far-right.
An estimated million people took to the streets of Barcelona to mark Catalonia's National Day and show continued support for independence. The annual Diada celebration is the first since Catalonia's failed attempt to break away from Spain last October.
A Spanish judge has ordered nine ex-members of the government in Catalonia jailed while they are investigated on possible charges of sedition, rebellion and embezzlement.
By Gwynne Dyer - It's been going on for a while. Recently in Catalonia we have been living through a kind of 'soft' totalitarianism...the illusion of unanimity created by the fear of expressing dissent, wrote best-selling Catalan author Javier Cercas in the Spanish newspaper El País in 2014. Those who didn't want independence kept their heads down and their mouths shut, in other words.
Sacked Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has gone to Belgium, a lawyer he has hired there says. The lawyer, Paul Bekaert, did not comment on reports that Puigdemont could be preparing an asylum claim.
Leaders from the world have largely rallied behind Spain's central government after the Catalan parliament voted in favor of splitting from Madrid and establishing an independent republic. Spanish president Mariano Rajoy on Friday announced the dissolution of the Catalan parliament and called for snap regional elections in a swift response to the Catalan MPs' declaration for independence.
Spain's Senate on Friday authorized the government to apply constitutional measures to take control of the government of Catalonia. A majority of senators gave Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy the go-ahead through Article 155 of the constitution to apply unprecedented measures, including sacking Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont and his cabinet. It also authorized him to curtail Catalan parliamentary powers.
The Spanish Senate is poised to activate Article 155 of the country’s constitution on Friday, giving Madrid the power to take over Catalonia’s institutions and police and remove its regional leader from office.