Catalan President Carles Puidgemont reiterated Tuesday that he believes Catalonia has the right to secede from Spain, but said that a formal split would only come after a "dialogue" with Spanish leaders in Madrid. However, many had expected him to make a formal declaration of independence during the early-evening press conference.
The highly-anticipated announcement followed a wave of protests that broke out on the streets of Barcelona Sunday, calling for peace between the Spanish Government in Madrid and Catalan opposition leaders. The group of protesters — a mix of Catalans and Spaniards living in the region — argued that citizens could be both Spanish and Catalan.
The ongoing dispute had drawn Catalan protestors into the streets after the Spanish government tried to block the October 1st referendum from taking place.
90 percent of Catalan citizens supported independence from Spain in the referendum, according to the Associated Press. But after the results were announced, the Spanish central government in Madrid countered that the vote was unconstitutional and not valid.
"The referendum was technically illegal," said Karlo Basta, a professor of political science at the Memorial University of Newfoundland who's extensively studied the Catalan struggle for independence. "The Catalan government understands this, which is why they're trying to internationalize the issue by trying to involve the European Union."
On Monday, the French minister of European affairs said that France would not recognize an independent Catalan state.
Spanish courts have a long history of ruling secession attempts as unconstitutional. Article 155 of the the country's Constitution says any efforts by Catalonia to secede empowers the central government to take hold of the Catalonia's autonomy altogether.
Many voting for independence argue that the contributions by Catalonia to Spain are unequal to what they receive in return. According to the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia, the territory represents a fifth of Spain's economy.
"[Spain] won't let us go because they need our tax income," said Arnau Riba Corbello, a frustrated protester who took the streets after the October 1st referendum.
Spain had granted Catalonia "nation" status in 2006, but rescinded the label four years later.