Catalonia independence decision today amid rising political and economic pressure

All you need to know about the crisis

All eyes will be on Catalonia’s regional parliament today as the region’s president prepares to give his response to the recent referendum where majority of Catalan voters sought independence from Spain.

This political deadlock has been compared in Spain to a “train collision” and has plunged the country into its deepest political crisis in over four decades.

The Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont will be delivering the key address today at 5pm (London time) amid tight security outside the parliament in Barcelona. The Parc de la Ciutadella, which houses the Catalan parliament building, has already been sealed off to the public for safety reasons.

Separatist lawmakers and activists have stated they won’t be satisfied with anything short of an independence declaration. Puigdemont has reportedly been threatened with arrest if he does not declare the independence.

Expectations are high that Mr Puigdemont will ask the Parliament to declare independence on the basis of the referendum law. Based on a voting held on 1 October, almost 90% of voters backed independence for the north-eastern region.

The turnout, however, was just 43% and the voting was deemed illegal and suspended by Spain’s Constitutional Court.

It is reported that the “no” voters largely boycotted the ballot and there were several reports of irregularities and violence, leaving hundreds injured. According to the Catalan government, 2.3m of Catalonia’s 5.3m registered voters had cast the ballot in the referendum. A full count was complicated as 770,000 votes were lost due to the police disruption.

The mayor of Barcelona has urged Puigdemont and the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to “de-escalate” the crisis.

Fearing political and economic isolation as a potential risk of separation, the Spanish government has repeatedly stated that it will use all the legal means at its disposal to prevent Catalonia from splitting from the rest of the country.

Spain’s economy minister, Luis de Guindos, has also told media that he hoped common sense would prevail and that the Catalan president would not declare independence.

European Council President Donald Tusk has urged Puigdemont to back down, saying: “The force of arguments is always better than the argument of force.”

In one of the biggest pro-unity demonstration since its constitutional crisis began, around 350,000 demonstrators marched through Barcelona this Sunday calling for Catalonia to remain part of Spain.Meanwhile, Independence supporters have been sharing the Catalan hashtag #10ODeclaració (10 October Declaration) on social media site Twitter.

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