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18th Mar 2019

Spanish PM vows to block Catalan independence vote

  • "There will be no self-determination referendum in Catalonia," said Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy. (Photo: Pool Moncloa/Diego Crespo)

[Updated on 8 September at 8.30] The Spanish government vowed on Thursday (7 September) to block Catalonia's independence referendum, called for 1 October, and threatened to launch legal proceedings against the region's leaders.

"There will be no self-determination referendum in Catalonia," Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy said after an emergency cabinet meeting in Madrid.

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The Spanish Constitutional Court later the same day suspended a referendum law that had been adopted by the Catalan parliament on Wednesday.

The court said it would study the legality of that bill, but it has previously said that any referendum organised without the consent of the central government was against the constitution.

Rajoy said that the Catalan referendum law was an "intolerable act of disobedience".

"What is not legal, is not democratic," Rajoy said. "Democracy will respond with firmness, with composure, with serenity and with dignity."

He called on Catalan leaders "not to go towards the cliff, accept the failure of their political project and abandon this process."

The government sent a letter to mayors, asking them to prevent the vote from taking place.

In a letter sent on Wednesday, the president and vice president of Catalonia's government, Carles Puigdemont and Oriol Junqueras, had asked mayors to allow the vote in their communes and warned that alternative voting stations would be established if they refuse to comply.

Also on Thursday, Spanish state prosecutor Jose Manuel Maza announced that a case will be opened against any member of the Generalitat, the Catalan government, who participates in organising the referendum.

He said that Catalan prosecutors will investigate actions that could be considered as crimes of disobedience, embezzlement and misuse of public money.

He added that Catalan authorities' move towards the referendum was in violation of constitutional rulings and Catalonia's statute of autonomy.

Members of the Catalan parliament who voted for the referendum law on Wednesday, as well as Puigdemont, who signed a decree calling the vote, could be prosecuted.

List of voters

The government and prosecutor's move come after the Spanish police searched a Catalan printing company that was suspected of printing documents for the referendum.

According to media, the police found a document in Spanish and Catalan that could be a list of voters. The Catalan government denied on Thursday that it had ordered the documents.

Meanwhile, in Barcelona, the parliament adopted a second bill to organise the transition towards an independent state if the separatists win the vote on 1 October.

As was the case on Wednesday, during the debate on the referendum law, Thursday's session was heated between separatist parties pushing for a vote and opposition parties trying to stop them.

In the late afternoon, the session was suspended to allow discussions between political group leaders.

This story was updated on 8 September to include the news that the Constitutional Court had suspended the referendum law and that the Catalan parliament had adopted the transition law

Catalan authorities call independence vote

After a tense session, the regional parliament adopted a bill organising a referendum on 1 October. The Spanish government has promised a "serene but firm" response to prevent the vote.

Spain prepares to stop Catalan vote

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has said he is ready call an extraordinary cabinet meeting if Catalonia's authorities table a bill to organise the vote on 1 October.

Feature

Catalonia ponders independence 'leap of faith'

Ahead of a referendum on 1 October, Catalans are almost united on the need to go to the ballot box. But they are divided on the question, and uncertain about the result and the consequences.

Spain arrests Catalan officials

Armed Spanish police have arrested Catalan officials and seized ballots for an independence referendum, prompting appeals for EU help.

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