Monday, 26 June, 2017

Catalonia to hold independence referendum in October

Catalan nationalists to call for independence vote on 1 October Catalonia announces October 1st date for independence referendum
Clarence Duncan | 10 June, 2017, 05:36

The nationalist government of Catalonia has announced that the referendum on independence from Spain it wants to hold will take place on October 1st, despite staunch opposition to the plan in Madrid.

President Puigdemont and the Vice-president and Minister for the Economy and Finance, Oriol Junqueras, delivered an official statement from the Orange Tree Courtyard announcing the date and question of the referendum on Catalan independence.

"The question will be: "Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic", said Carles Puigdemont, the head of the regional government, Reuters reports.

Previous secessionist challenges in Catalonia - a wealthy, 7.5-million-strong region with its own language and customs - were blocked by Spain's conservative government and the Constitutional Court.

Spain's government has long warned that the planned referendum is illegal, and has promised to ensure the vote does not go ahead.

The Catalan government insists this time the referendum results would be legally binding.

Spanish government "will block any voting for Catalonia's independence", Vigo said at a press conference. The region says the central government takes much more than it gives back under Spain's complicated system of budget transfers. This feeling contributed to a surge of pro-independence fervour during Spain's worst years of recession at the beginning of this decade. In a speech last month, Puigdemont said his government had a "democratically inviolable" commitment to the referendum and accused Spain of failing to do anything "serious, honest or real" to resolve the issue.

During the mock vote, 80 percent of voters supported independence from Madrid, although less than half of the region's 5.4 million population took part.

The government of Catalonia says it has been open to negotiating the terms of the referendum or coming to an agreement, but has been ignored by Madrid.

In an extreme case, Madrid could suspend the regional government's authority to rule or send in the police.

Earlier this year, the Catalan Supreme Court found the then regional leader, Artur Mas, as well as two former minsters, guilty of disobeying the Spanish Constitutional Court by holding the non-binding referendum.

As such, Catalan authorities face an uphill struggle to even hold a vote that would force people to break the law, particularly civil servants who will be called on to help organise the poll.

The 2014 independence referendum was set up in Catalonia despite the Spanish Constitution Court declaring it illegal.

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