Catalonia May Cancel Independence Vote

Catalonia May Cancel Independence Vote

Spain’s Catalonia region may not hold its planned independence referendum in early November if the country’s top court vetoes the poll. A source inside Catalonia’s ruling Convergence and Union party (CiU) told Spain’s El País newspaper that the Catalan government was already secretly look at alternatives to holding the poll.

Catalonia’s regional president, Artur Mas, called the referendum after Spain’s central government refused to give more financial autonomy to the region as it battles recession.

The Catalan parliament is expected to pass the law officially calling for the referendum in the middle of next month, after the region’s “national day” on 11 September, when they expect nationalist fervour to peak.

However, Spain’s Constitutional Court will likely veto the bill, putting Catalonia on a direct collision course with the Spanish state.

The unnamed CiU insider told El País: “In such a scenario, we wouldn’t go to the polls because it would give too much of an advantage to our opponents,” adding that parties opposed to independence would call on their supporters to boycott the vote, depriving it of legitimacy.

The source added that the Catalan government would like to see an 80 percent turnout with plenty of ‘noes’, rather than 50 percent.

Mas is apparently now considering other options, including bringing forward regional elections to act as a de facto referendum.

The Spanish government maintains that the referendum will be illegal under the country’s constitution, and has steadfastly maintained that it will never recognise the result.

With its own distinct language and culture, Catalonia has often felt itself to separate from the rest of Spain. Since the death of dictator Francisco Franco and the restoration of democracy, the region has seen a growing nationalist movement determined to secede and form a new state.

It is also Spain’s wealthiest region, which has led to locals resenting their tax money being redistributed to poorer regions, especially after trying to deal with one worst recessions in living memory.