Political crisis in Spain as Catalans opt for Independence from Madrid

Pro-unity
Demonstrators wave European, Spanish and Catalan flags during a demonstration called by “Sociedat Civil Catalana” (Catalan Civil Society) to support the unity of Spain, at Catalonia square in Barcelona, on January 31, 2016

Political chaos and constitutional crisis has erupted in Spain after Catalans voted in favor of independence in a contested referendum amid violent crackdown by Spanish police in riot gear in which more than 800 were injured.

The Catalan government said it had earned the right to split from Spain after results showed 90% of those who voted were in favor of a split.

Catalans voted on October 1 on a referendum seeking secession from Spain in a move that is highly controversial and caused deep divisions in the country.

The Spanish government headed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, backed by the top Constitutional Court has ruled the referendum as unconstitutional and therefore illegal.

But the Catalan President t Carles Puigdemont went ahead with the referendum,saying if the vote is to leave then he will declare Catalonia a republic within 48 hours.

The Catalans are the people who live in the “Paisos Catalans”, or Catalan Countries, which include Valencia, the Balearic Islands, parts of the Spanish region of Aragon, Roussillon in southeastern France and, Catalonia itself but referendum is confined only to Catalonia, an area in northeastern Spain,havi

The euro and Spanish stocks fell on Monday as investors tried.

The uncertainty over Spain weighed on the euro as the stocks fell.

The Catalan President Carles Puigdemont denounced the police crackdown as the worst violence Catalonia had seen since the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco, and demanded the withdrawal of Spanish national forces from the region.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, called for “independent and impartial investigations into all acts of violence” around the independence referendum, and asked the Spanish government to allow UN human rights experts to visit.

“Police responses must at all times be proportionate and necessary,” he said in a statement. “I firmly believe that the current situation should be resolved through political dialogue, with full respect for democratic freedoms,” he added.

The Catalan government has broad powers in areas such as education, health, security, culture, urban development and the environment. It has its own police force, the Mossos d‘Esquadra.But the Madrid government has powers over foreign, defense, immigration and broad economic policy.

The European Commission, the European Unions’s executive body is backing Madrid, saying the vote was illegal. “We call on all relevant players to now move very swiftly from confrontation to dialogue. Violence can never be an instrument in politics,” the commission said in a statement posted on Twitter.

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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