Another extraordinary day in Spanish Politics


Spain was plunged into its worst political crisis in decades on October 1, 2017 when its richest area, Catalonia, held an independence referendum (vote). They wanted to see how the people of Catalonia felt about breaking away and becoming a separate country. The people voted yes! The Spanish government in Madrid called the vote illegal. This led to a political stand-off.

What did the Catalans do next?

On Friday, October 27, 2017, the Catalan Parliament took the next step and voted for independence from Spain and won by a margin of 70 votes to 10.

This was greeted with tears of joy in Catalonia.

Wait a second – what’s the difference between a referendum and a vote in Parliament?

A referendum is when all the people who live in an area are asked to cast their vote – yes or no – on a particular issue. In this example, on October 1, 2017, all the residents of Catalonia were asked to cast their vote on whether or not they would like their area to break away from Spain.

A Parliament is part of the government. The Parliament is made of up of officials who represent the people of an area. So the vote in the Catalan Parliament means that the representatives of the people from different parts of Catalonia voted to gain independence from Spain.

But how did Spain respond?

Just hours later, the Spanish Senate in Madrid voted to directly control the region of Catalonia. Catalonia is a part of Spain but has its own government in Barcelona. So this new move takes power away from the Catalan Parliament and puts the region under control of Madrid.

The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, fired the Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont and his key ministers. The Spanish government will take control of Catalonia’s civil service, police, finances and public media. They hope to keep this intervention as brief as possible and hold elections in the area within the next 6 months.

You might ask – what next?

The Spanish government has appointed Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría to take charge of Catalonia.

It is unclear how the Spanish government will enforce direct control. It is also uncertain how the fired Catalonian politicians will respond.

How has the world responded?

The European Union, UK and USA refuse to accept Catalonia as an independent republic. But world leaders called on both sides to talk and come to a solution.

To read more about the vote Catalonia tries to breakaway from Spain

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