Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Saturday, 10 june 2017 | NEW YORK TIMES


Catalonia to Vote on Leaving Spain in October, Region’s Leader Vows

 Catalonia will hold a referendum on independence on Oct. 1, the president of the region said on Friday, defying the Spanish courts and the conservative government in Madrid.

JUNE 9, 2017
Catalonia will hold a referendum on independence on Oct. 1, the president of the region said on Friday, defying the Spanish courts and the conservative government in Madrid.

Longstanding objections to the referendum, which was announced by the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, mean that it is unclear how the vote could be held and whether it would be considered binding. But the decision nonetheless raises the stakes in a separatist dispute that has been at the heart of Spanish politics for five years.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, with the support of the Spanish judiciary, has promised to block efforts to hold a referendum, and vowed to maintain Spanish unity and resist the secessionist push from Catalonia.

Spain has a monarchy, and Mr. Puigdemont said that Catalan voters would be asked if they wanted a Catalan state in the form of a republic. “It is time for Catalans to decide their future,” Mr. Puigdemont said on Friday. “Over the years, we have always offered suggestions, and they have always been rejected.”
Catalonia held a nonbinding independence vote in November 2014, but it was declared illegal by Spanish courts. Voters had overwhelmingly backed independence at that time, although large numbers of Catalans chose not to take part, and it is unclear what the turnout might be in October if the referendum is not approved by Madrid.
This year, Artur Mas, the former president of Catalonia, was among a handful of regional officials who were barred from holding public office after being convicted of disobeying the Spanish judiciary for staging the vote in 2014.

Separatists argue that by refusing to allow Catalonia to hold a referendum, Mr. Rajoy is refusing to uphold a basic democratic value: the right to vote.

But Mr. Rajoy’s government warns that it will not allow the regional government to flout the Spanish Constitution by holding an unapproved referendum on independence. The national government has pledged to take further legal measures against Catalan officials who violate the law.

The Spanish government said on Friday that it was ready to have a dialogue in Parliament with those who want independence, but not over plans for a referendum that it considers illegal.

“Today is the umpteenth announcement made by the secessionists, but it doesn’t translate into anything,” Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, Spain’s culture and education minister, and the government’s official spokesman, said at a news conference. “What I can say is what will not happen on Oct. 1 — an illegal referendum that goes against the Constitution.”
Separatist politicians hold a majority of seats in the Catalan regional government, but they face numerous challenges — not only to holding an independence referendum but also to convincing Catalans that the region stands to gain from breaking away.
Catalonia, with a population of 7.5 million, accounts for almost one-fifth of Spain’s economic output. Recent opinion polls on independence have oscillated, but they broadly indicate that Catalans are roughly equally split on the issue, even if a clear majority wants to settle the matter with a binding vote.

Mr. Puigdemont and other separatists have called on Mr. Rajoy to follow the example of Britain, where David Cameron, the former British prime minister, allowed Scotland to hold an independence referendum in 2014.

Scots voted against independence, but Nicola Sturgeon, now Scotland’s first minister, has been pressing for a second independence referendum, to be held between the fall of 2018 and the spring of 2019, by which point the shape of Britain’s deal to exit the European Union should be known.

Her Scottish National Party lost seats in the British general election on Thursday, however, suggesting that enthusiasm for a second referendum may have cooled.

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Col·lectiu Emma is a network of Catalans and non-Catalans living in different countries who have made it their job to track and review news reports about Catalonia in the international media. Our goal is to ensure that the world's public opinion gets a fair picture of the country's reality today and in history.

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia