Iberian region Catalonia is making preparations for a referendum on it’s future in November, despite all efforts by the Spanish government which has declared the vote illegal, and sworn to use “all means necessary” to prevent Catalan independence, shy of “sending in the tanks”.
Having failed to persuade the Catalan regional authorities to suspend the vote, the central Spanish government asked the constitutional court to find against the local referendum, a request they responded to in less than twelve hours. The exceptional speed of the decision to suspend the vote on constitutional grounds has invited criticism from Catalans, with the leader of the regional government commenting on its unusual rapidity: “They broke the speed of sound, they did not even wait one day”, reports theLocal.es.
The court has not yet ruled the vote unconstitutional, but has given itself five months to decide whether the vote is in keeping with the Spanish constitution, and has banned any activity to take place during the deliberation period. As the vote is set for November 9th, if it goes ahead as planned the Catalan regional government may be punished by having their devolved powers taken away.
The attitude of the central government in Spain on the vote, which falls less than two months after Scotland’s own referendum highlights the key differences between Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and British PM David Cameron. Whereas the prevailing attitude in the UK was Scots independence was a matter for Scots only, Rajoy takes a different view, saying: “It’s false that the right to vote can be assigned unilaterally to one region about a matter that affects all Spaniards… It’s profoundly anti-democratic”.
Artur Mas, president of Catalonia remains bullish in tone as television and radio spots go out across the region reminding people to vote next month. Speaking on Sunday he said: “You cannot use the law to prevent people indefinitely from stating their opinion… Voting on November is the best thing for everyone because it will allow us and also the Spanish government to know what the Catalan people’s opinion is”.
Much like Scotland before their historic referendum vote to remain in the United Kingdom this month, recent polls in Catalonia have shown support for independence remains at around 50 percent. If the vote goes ahead, it may not herald immediate change as it is non-binding, and will merely reflect public opinion.