3rd Mar 2024

Catalonia to call off independence referendum

Catalonian leader Artur Mas is expected to cancel plans for a November referendum on independence after the country's top court said it should not go ahead.

Mas will hold a press conference on Tuesday (14 October) at 10am local time to explain the situation and outline alternatives.

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  • No referendum, after all (Photo: iSabadell)

A meeting of pro-independence parties on Monday ended with Mas saying that he will call off the planned referendum due to legal uncertainty.

"The [regional] government has determined that the consultation can't take place," Joan Herrera of the leftist Initiative for Catalonia party told reporters after the meeting.

The referendum was suspended last month by Spain's constitutional court, but the regional government of Catalonia has not announced a decision to abandon the vote.

The Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), a party needed for Mas to pass laws in the regional parliament, said it would back the plan for a new form of public consultation, but also called for the Catalan parliament to make an immediate declaration of independence.

"We warn there is only one way ahead: the Catalan parliament must draw up a Declaration of Independence immediately," the party said in a statement.

"They [the Catalan government] are imposing a new scenario on us, one that we in no way agreed to," it added.

Mas' popularity has surged in the 7.5 million-strong Catalonia, where protesters took to the streets over the past few years to demand independence from Madrid. There are also economic reasons behind the movement, as Catalonia is the richest part of Spain and is unhappy about how money is distributed.

On 19 September, the regional parliament voted by 106 to 28 in favour of granting Mas the power to hold a referendum.

But according to the central government, any such move, including a non-binding "public consultation", would have been unconstitutional.

The country's constitutional court last month accepted a case brought by the Spanish government and said no referendum should be held until it reaches a judgement. The ruling is not expected anytime soon.

According to a poll published on 5 October, only 23 percent of Catalans support the idea of going ahead with the referendum, while 45 percent want the regional authorities to comply with the ban ordered by the court.

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