Catalonia braces for ‘illegal’ independence vote, Central Spanish Public Prosecutor to sue Catalonian cabinet
Around 654 mayors in the Spanish regional state of Catalonia have signed a decree, agreeing to push ahead with a vote on independence. Only local leaders in Barcelona and six other municipalities have refused to sign. Together, the municipalities are home to around 40% of the Catalonian population. The decree flies in the face of both the central Spanish government in Madrid, as well as regional President Carles Puigdemont’s efforts to organise a vote. Catalonia braces for
On Wednesday, the Catalan parliament, which is controlled by pro-independence parties, approved legislation for the vote. However, on Thursday the Spanish Constitutional Court suspended the regional government’s referendum bill. It said it would hear an appeal by the Spanish government, warning officials of their duty to comply with its decision. In the past, the Court has ruled that referendums can only be called by the central government.
Spain’s central government, meanwhile, is not amused. The Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy called the bill:
“an intolerable act of disobedience. There won’t be a self-determination referendum. I will do whatever is needed, without relinquishing anything, to prevent it.“
The Public Prosecutor’s Office announced it was launching criminal actions against the Catalan cabinet and regional lawmakers involved in processing the referendum bill.
Ada Colau, mayor of Barcelona, together with officials from other major Catalan municipalities have pushed back on requests to host the upcoming referendum. Gerardo Pisarello, Barcelona’s first deputy mayor said in a comment to Spanish newspaper El Pais:
“We reiterate our commitment to Barcelona having the right to vote, so long as that does not put our institution and civil servants at risk.“
He has asked Puigdemont to explain how the vote could be held without putting his civil servants in danger. Other municipalities have simply refused to make premises available. Despite this, the referendum is still scheduled to take place on 1 October.
Across Catalonia, the announcements have prompted demonstrations. Newspaper El Mundo reported that 800 people gathered in front of Barcelona’s town hall, expressing dissatisfaction on Friday. The Diada, the Catalan national day, which is on Monday, might provide an indication of the position of a majority of the Catalans. In previous years, millions have used the celebration to rally in support of an independent Catalonia.
Politico reports that “some” worry about the conflict escalating to a civil disobedience campaign in the streets of Catalonia, mirroring the 2014 Ukrainian revolution. Civil servants, however, have expressed concerns they could be sanctioned, while politicians run the risk of being removed and banned from office by the courts. This suggests not much revolutionary zeal is to be expected from that corner.