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Spain

Yearbook 2017

Spain. The Catalan independence vote, which took place on October 1, came to characterize much of the year. The struggle for independence came to open a wound in the EU. About Catalonia, why not the Basque Country, Flanders, Wallonia, Scotland? No wonder then that the European Commission already the day after the election determined that the vote was not legitimate; the United States and NATO also rejected Catalonia's quest for freedom.

2017 Spain

According to Countryaah.com, Catalan Independents have for several years strived to establish a legitimate referendum, most recently inspired by the vote in Scotland in 2014. In February, the Spanish Constitutional Court stopped Catalonia's request for a referendum, but on June 9, regional president Carles Puigdemont announced that an October 1 vote would be held. When the Catalan Parliament voted in early September for a law on a referendum on independence on October 1, the Spanish Constitutional Court annulled the law, saying that the Catalan government will be prosecuted. On September 20, Spanish police arrested 13 Catalan politicians and confiscated millions of ballots.

The election was a great success for the Catalan separatists, to the extent that they won a crushing percentage as a percentage: the jas side received 90% of the vote, but of Catalonia's 5.5 million eligible voters only 2.2 million. Thus, voter turnout was low, only 40%, which in most referendums has been rejected as indicative.

Around 800 people were injured during the referendum in clashes between police and protesters. The Spanish police had the task of stopping the referendum, for example by seizing ballot boxes, and they managed to shut down nearly 30% of the 6,000 polling stations; at a local one even fired rubber bullets at voters. The EU, which rejected the election, urged the central government to restrain and criticize the violence. UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein called on Spain to "ensure a thorough, independent and impartial investigation of all acts of violence".

Catalonia hesitated long before the Declaration of Independence came, but on October 27, the regional parliament (70 votes in favor, 10 against and two blank) agreed to proclaim independence. It did not take an hour until the Madrid government had obtained the approval of the Spanish Senate to abolish Catalan autonomy and dismiss the regional government. Article 155 of the Constitution was used to "restore the legality" of the region. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy also announced that a new election in Catalonia would take place in December. A few days later, the deposed regional president Puigdemont surrendered to Brussels, many thought he would seek political asylum in Belgium because charges had been brought against him. He was charged with, among other things, insurrection and misuse of public funds. An international search for Puigdemont and other Catalan separatist leaders was later withdrawn by the Spanish authorities. On November 8, the Spanish Constitutional Court revoked the Catalan Declaration of Independence.

The new elections in Catalonia on December 21 ended with a win for the separatists. Together, the three separatist parties received 70 out of 135 seats and thus a majority in the Catalan parliament. The turnout was unusually high, 82 percent.

On August 17, Barcelona suffered a terror attack. At least 14 people died when a van drove into a crowd on the popular pedestrian street La Rambla. The terrorist group Islamic State (IS) took on the deed. A day later, the tourist resort of Cambrils, 12 miles south of Barcelona, was also hit by a car attack. Several people were injured before the police managed to stop the perpetrators; five of them were killed by police. Three of the perpetrators were identified as Moroccan citizens; also this attack was signed IS. A few days later, the terrorist in Barcelona was shot dead by the police. At a strike in Alcanar south of Barcelona a few days before the terrorist attack on La Rambla, eight suspected terrorists were killed and four arrested. This terror cell is believed to have been behind the deaths in Barcelona and Cambrils.

The number of migrants to Spain increased sharply during the year. This since the road via Turkey was closed and more and more people avoided the road to Europe via Libya. According to the Spanish Coast Guard, in 2016 nearly 7,000 migrants were rescued trying to get to Spain by sea. On New Year's Day, more than 1,000 African migrants tried to make their way through the barriers between the Moroccan border and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. About fifty police officers were injured in the clashes; all migrants were driven back to Morocco. A few months later, however, about 500 migrants managed to get to Ceuta, and a day later another 300 managed to get to Ceuta, which, like Melilla, is the EU's only land border with Africa.

In April, the Basque separatist group ETA announced that it was disarming itself, including by submitting a list of twelve ceasefires in France. It was in 2011 that ETA proclaimed a unilateral ceasefire and announced that the armed part in the fight for an independent Basque was over.

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