• Spain's news in English

Madrid set to veto Catalonia vote plans

AFP · 8 Apr 2014, 08:13

Published: 08 Apr 2014 08:13 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Catalonia's president Artur Mas has vowed to go ahead with the referendum on November 9th even if Madrid rejects his request for the northeastern region to be granted the power to hold the ballot.

"If they say no, they will say no to a law. But they can't stop the will of the people of Catalonia," he told reporters on Sunday when asked about the looming vote in parliament.

The Catalan government's motion is fiercely opposed by Spain's ruling conservative Popular Party, which holds a majority in the parliament, as well as by the main opposition Socialist Party.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has insisted the vote would be illegal. Under Spain's constitution, all Spaniards have the right to vote on whether a single region should be permitted to become an independent sovereign state.

The prime minister has also warned that independence would be an economic disaster for both Spain and Catalonia, which is one of the Mediterranean country's most productive but also most indebted regions.

Rajoy is backed by Spain's Constitutional Court, which last month ruled that the move by Mas and other Catalan political leaders to hold the referendum was unconstitutional.

Still, the regional government faces strong pressure to push ahead with the referendum.

The Catalan National Assembly, a powerful pressure group, has gathered tens of thousands of signatures on a petition urging local leaders to "exhaust all of the paths" to a referendum.

"On November 9th, we will vote. We will not renounce the referendum, because it is our dignity that is at stake, the dignity of Catalonia," said the president of the group, Carme Forcadell.

The Catalan National Assembly on Saturday unveiled a "roadmap", which calls for the region to declare independence from Spain by April 23, 2015 — the feast day of Saint George, the patron saint of Catalonia.

On September 11th, Catalonia's national day, hundreds of thousands of people formed a human chain across the region to demand independence in a rally organized by the group.

This year the assembly plans to create another chain in Barcelona in the shape of the letter "V" for "Victory", exactly one year before the day it wants to hold a referendum on a new constitution for Catalonia.

The date commemorates the conquest of Barcelona by Spanish king Philip V's forces in 1714, which many Catalans say marked the end of centuries of autonomy.

Historic opportunity

Proud of their distinct language and culture, many of Catalonia's 7.5 million citizens resent the redistribution of their taxes to other regions.

The 2008 real estate crash that triggered a five-year economic downturn across Spain has added to the pressure for secession over the past two years.

Catalonia's public debt stood at €57.1 billion euros ($78.5 billion) at the end of 2013, the highest of Spain's 17 autonomous regions.

Spanish lawmakers will begin debating Catalonia's request to hold the referendum at 4pm (1400 GMT), with the vote expected several hours later.

The motion will be defended in the assembly by lawmakers from the Catalan president's ruling Convergence and Union alliance, or CiU, and its partners, the separatist Republican Left, or ERC.

Story continues below…

Mas will not travel to Madrid to take part in the debate.

"I think lawmakers have a historic opportunity to amend the mistakes that were made by the State against Catalonia," said CiU parliamentary spokesman Jordi Turull ahead of the debate and vote.

Rajoy said on Monday he would like to resolve the crisis with Catalonia through dialogue.

"I never imagined anything else. I think we must talk," he said.  

But speaking on Sunday the secretary-general of Rajoy's People's Party, Maria Dolores de Cospedal, repeated the argument that "sovereignty cannot be negotiated and it cannot be shared".

"Regarding Spain and the Spaniards it is all Spaniards who decide," she added.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spain's 'Napflix' aims to bore viewers to sleep
Photo: Screengrab/ Napflix

A Spanish video platform called Napflix, designed to put people to sleep with dull content, was launched this week and its founders are on the lookout for more "monotony and repetition."

Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Brit 'paedo' held on Costa del Sol after Most Wanted appeal

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives was arrested on the Costa Del Sol following a tip-off from an expat just hours after his face appeared on a public appeal.

Spain's parliament approves deficit reduction measures
Photo: Images Money/Flickr

Spanish lawmakers approved on Thursday measures to reduce the public deficit and keep it under the target agreed with the European Union.

'Cubism and War' show opens at Barcelona Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso Harlequin and Woman with a Necklace. Photo: MP

Barcelona's Picasso Museum unveiled an exhibition on "Cubism and War" on Thursday depicting how one of the most influential artistic styles of the 20th century survived the First World War.

Why this bionic limb pioneer doesn't believe in disability
Hugh Herr has been award Spain's top science prize. Photo: FPA

The Local speaks to Hugh Herr on winning Spain's top science prize and how being an amputee doesn't make him disabled.

Dine in the buff at Spain's first nudist restaurant
A buffet of organic food will be served on "human tables". Photo: Innato / Facebook

Spain's first naked dining experience is to arrive on the island of Tenerife following the success of a similar venture in London.

Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Photo: AFP

Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday cancelled a bullfighting ban in Catalonia in what is likely to exacerbate tensions between Madrid and the separatist region, and between animal activists and fans of the tradition.

Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Eta members made a ceasefire declaration in January, 2011. Photo: Gara / AFP

Five years after armed separatist group Eta declared a permanent ceasefire, Basque journalist Alberto Letona is still wondering when the dialogue will begin.

Hunt for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Call Crimestoppers if you recognize these faces.

These fugitives from British justice are thought to be hiding out in Spain. Do you recognize anyone?

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
Forgotten Voices: What Brits in Spain think about Brexit
One dead and 14 injured in blast at Spanish resort
Game of Thrones want extras 'with muscles' to film in Spain
Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
jobs available