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article imageKey dates in Catalonia's push for independence

By Laurence BOUTREUX (AFP)     Oct 4, 2017 in World

Spain is facing its worst political crisis in decades as Catalan threatens to declare independence following a chaotic referendum branded illegal by the central government in Madrid.

Here are the key dates in the wealthy region's independence drive.

- Start of a new nation? -

March 30, 2006: Spain's parliament approves a new autonomy charter for Catalonia that increases the region's fiscal and judicial powers and describes it as a "nation".

July 31: The conservative Popular Party (PP), which has only marginal support in Catalonia, appeals against the charter, accusing it of "privileging" Catalonia.

June 28, 2010: The Constitutional Court strikes down parts of the charter. 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 10: Hundreds of thousands of people protest in the Catalan capital Barcelona

- Support grows -

September 11, 2012: At the height of Spain's economic crisis, more than a million people protest in Barcelona on Catalonia's national day, demanding independence in what becomes an annual tradition.

Catalonian contributions to Spain
Catalonian contributions to Spain

September 20: Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy rejects Catalan president Artur Mas's call for greater tax-and-spend powers for the region.

November 26: Mas's centre-right CiU alliance wins a snap election after promising to hold a referendum on Catalonia's future but fails to secure an absolute majority in the regional parliament.

November 9, 2014: Catalonia defies Madrid and presses ahead with a symbolic vote on independence. More than 80 percent -- 1.8 million people -- vote in favour of independence but turnout is just 37 percent.

- Political clash -

September 27, 2015: The pro-independence Together For Yes alliance secures 62 seats in the regional assembly and the CUP, a leftwing separatist group, wins 10, giving the two an absolute majority.

But the bloc falls short of winning a majority 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 vote to start the process to secede. The resolution is later struck down by Spain's Constitutional Court.

January 10, 2016: Longtime separatist Carles Puigdemont becomes president of Catalonia.

- Banned referendum goes ahead -

June 9, 2017: Puigdemont announces an independence referendum to be held on October 1. Madrid says it will block the vote.

Major demonstrations are held every year on September 11  Catalonia's national day
Major demonstrations are held every year on September 11, Catalonia's national day

September 6: Catalonia's parliament approves a law allowing the referendum.

September 7: The Constitutional Court suspends the referendum following a legal challenge from Madrid, but the Catalan government vows to go ahead.

September 13: Spanish prosecutors order police to stop the referendum by seizing ballot papers, ballot boxes and campaign posters.

September 20: Police arrest 14 Catalan officials suspected of organising the referendum and seize nearly 10 million ballot papers. Thousands protest in Barcelona.

September 30: Police say they have sealed off over half of the polling stations.

October 1: Spanish riot police fire rubber bullets and force their way into polling stations during the banned referendum, with clashes injuring scores of people

Puigdemont claims 90 percent of voters backed independence. Turnout was 42.3 percent.

October 2: Madrid vows to stop Catalonia from declaring independence while itself coming under pressure over the police violence.

October 3: About 700,000 Catalans demonstrate against the police crackdown. King Felipe intervenes, accusing Catalan leaders of threatening Spain's stability and urging the state to defend "constitutional order".

- Puigdemont tells the BBC he will act in the next week to declare independence.

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