PICTURED: Celebrations and protests as Catalonia declares independence from Spain

People rest during a demonstration outside the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona.

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People rest during a demonstration outside the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona.
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REUTERS/Yves Herman

LONDON – Spaniards took to the streets on Friday night and into Saturday morning to either celebrate or protest Catalonia’s declaration of independence.

Catalan’s regional parliament voted to leave Spain on Friday, leading to celebrations in the capital of Barcelona and protests in the unionist heartlands of Madrid.

The Spanish government fired the regional government in response and has enacted direct rule, leaving the region’s future in doubt.

Scroll down to see pictures of what’s going on across Spain and to understand the background of the constitutional crisis:


Catalan is a northeastern region of Spain, home to 2.75 million people. The region’s capital is Barcelona and Catalan is one of the most economically important regions to Spain.

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People wave Esteladas (Catalan separatist flags) during celebrations in Sant Jaume square after the Catalan regional parliament declared independence from Spain in Barcelona, Spain, October 27, 2017.
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REUTERS/Juan Medina

The region has its own language and unique culture and was largely autonomous prior to the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. The region regained some autonomy in 1975 but many in the region have long felt it deserved full independence.

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People react at Sant Jaume Square after Catalan regional parliament declares independence from Spain in Barcelona, Spain October 27, 2017.
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REUTERS/Yves Herman

Tensions have flared in the post-financial crisis era, with many Catalonians feeling they unfairly subsidised the rest of the country.

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Catalan separatist flags are held up as fireworks go off in Sant Jaume Square in front of the Catalan regional government headquarters during celebrations after the Catalan regional parliament declared independence from Spain in Barcelona, Spain, October 27, 2017.
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REUTERS/Yves Herman

A contested independence referendum was held on October 1, 2017. Madrid sent riot police to stop the vote and the Spanish government declared the vote invalid. Turnout was estimated to be just over 40% but over 90% of those who did vote favoured independence.

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A woman reacts while the Catalan regional parliament votes for independence of Catalonia from Spain in Barcelona.
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REUTERS/Yves Herman

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Catalan President Carles Puigdemont initially called for a diplomatic resolution following the vote, but failed to make any headway with his national counterpart Mariano Rajoy.

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Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.
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Albert Gea/Reuters

Politicians in the regional parliament in Barcelona voted to become a sovereign independent state against Spain’s wishes on Friday October 27.

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People gather as they watch on giant screens a plenary session outside the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona.
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REUTERS/Yves Herman

Thousands of people took to the streets in Barcelona to celebrate the result.

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People celebrate after the Catalan regional parliament declares the independence from Spain in Barcelona.
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REUTERS/Juan Medina

Spain’s central government rejected the result, dismissing the Catalonian government and imposing direct rule.

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A man displays a scarf featuring an Estelada (Catalan separatist flag) design, as he reacts at Sant Jaume Square after the Catalan regional parliament declares independence from Spain in Barcelona, Spain October 27, 2017.
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REUTERS/Yves Herman

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The government in Madrid dismissed the regional police chief and sent extra national police to the region.

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Catalan regional police stand guard the morning after the Catalan regional parliament declared independence from Spain in Barcelona, Spain, October 28, 2017.
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REUTERS/Yves Herman

Pictured is a ferry boat in the Port of Barcelona that was rented by the Spanish government to accommodate police reinforcements.

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A ferry boat rented by the Spanish government to accommodate Spanish police reinforcements to Catalonia is seen in the Port of Barcelona , Spain, October 27, 2017.
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REUTERS/Jon Nazca

While many Catalonians are celebrating the result, not everyone is. Pro-unity demonstrators also took to the streets of Barcelona last night to protest independence.

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Pro unity demonstrators wave Spanish and Catalan flags during a protest after the Catalan regional parliament declared independence from Spain in Barcelona, Spain, October 27, 2017.
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REUTERS/Albert Gea

A pro-unity demonstration was held in Madrid the on Saturday in response to the marches in Barcelona.

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Pro-unity demonstrators gather, the day after the Catalan regional parliament declared independence from Spain, in Madrid, Spain, October 28, 2017.
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REUTERS/Susana Vera

Some pro-unity demonstrators carried banners calling for the imprisonment of sacked Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.

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Pro-unity demonstrators with banners calling for the imprisonment of sacked Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, gather in Madrid, Spain, October 28, 2017.
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REUTERS/Susana Vera

So far protests and celebrations have been largely peaceful but there are fears that the constitutional crisis could boil over into physical conflict, with some even worrying that a civil war could breakout.

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A pro unity demonstrator is stopped by Catalan Regional Police officer during a protest after the Catalan regional parliament declared independence from Spain in Barcelona, Spain, October 27, 2017.
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REUTERS/Albert Gea

Catalonia and the rest of Spain are currently locked in a standoff. The central government hasn’t taken action beyond dismissing the government and issuing decrees. Meanwhile, the Catalans are unlikely to accept the validity of these decrees. How the constitutional crisis will resolve itself is impossible to predict.

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People react as they watch on giant screens a plenary session outside the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona, Spain, October 27, 2017.
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REUTERS/Yves Herman