In Brief

Catalonia independence: strikes shut region

Spain may try to seize control of the Catalan government if it declares autonomy

Protesters converged on Barcelona today as Catalans observed a general strike to condemn police violence during a banned weekend referendum on independence.

Several thousand people gatherered outside the regional headquarters of Spain’s ruling Popular Party, chanting, “Occupiers out!”, reports European news network The Local. There were similar protests outside the offices of the centre-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) party.

Traffic queues on the region’s main highways stretched up to six miles by midday, and almost 50 roads were blocked, The Local says. Barcelona’s port was at a standstill.

More political tension is expected this week as Catalonia's leaders prepare to declare independence - a move that will could take place tomorrow, according to The Independent.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has said he does not want a “traumatic break... We want a new understanding with the Spanish state,” the BBC reported.

If Catalonia declares itself independent, says the CNBC website, the move “could push the Spanish government to seize control of the Catalan government” under Article 155 of the Constitution - a never-before-used tactic that would allow the central government to revoke the power of autonomous regions.

Madrid says it will not formally recognise an independence declaration, reports The Guardian. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told Euronews that the EU will only recognise an independent Catalonia with Spain’s blessing.

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