Friday

15th Nov 2019

Spain to block referendum, after Catalonia signs decree

Catalans have switched on a giant clock in Barcelona to count the days and hours to a referendum on secession on 9 November after local leader Artur Mas signed the project into law on Saturday (27 September).

But Madrid says it will not go ahead.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Mas signed the decree at a medieval palace in Barcelona on Saturday (Photo: Jordi Bedmar)

Spain’s deputy PM, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, told press shortly after Mas’ signature ceremony that “this referendum will not take place because it is not constitutional”.

She added: “No government and no single person is above the will of sovereignty, and it is the government’s job to ensure that the law is not broken … No one is above democracy, nor can they decide [which laws] should be obeyed and which should no longer be obeyed”.

The government says that under Spain’s 1978 charter only it has the power to call a vote and that all Spaniards must be involved in the outcome.

Mas says the “consultation’s” non-binding nature means it can go ahead under a local decree.

The Spanish government is to hold an emergency cabinet meeting on Monday and to refer the case to the Constitutional Court, which is expected to take its side.

But Mas on Saturday said: “We cannot fall into the trap of immobility, the trappings of legality, and do nothing at all … Catalonia wants to decide its own political future, peacefully and democratically”.

He referred to Catalonia as a “nation”.

Speaking from Barcelona’s medieval palace, he added that over the past “seven centuries, only external impositions have caused the suspension of self-government, self-government which the will of the Catalan people has always sought to reclaim”.

His office the same day published a list of voting stations and unveiled a €9 million budget for the project.

It said the vote will be guarded by 9,200 local police and that 10,800 ballot boxes will be ready in October.

Polls indicate that most Catalans would say Yes if given the chance.

Forty five percent of them also say they want Mas to abide by the Constitutional Court decision.

But for his part, Oriol Junqueras, the head of Catalonia’s left-wing ERC party, earlier this month called for civil disobedience if the vote does not go ahead. Pedro Sanchez, the head of the left-wing opposition PSD party in Madrid also warned that “after 9 November goes by and there is no vote, we'll have to face emotions in Catalonia: frustration; anger; discouragement; and even resistance."

The Catalan confrontation comes after Scotland voted No to independence on 18 September.

Mas has noted he would have preferred a Yes, but says the way that Britain handled the situation should be a model for Spain.

A majority of Basque people in north-west Spain also want the chance to vote on their status.

Separatists in Belgium and Sardinia have said the developments in Scotland and Spain have given a boost to their hopes for independence as well.

Catalan MEP is 'elected', court advisor says

In a boost for the cause of three Catalan MEPs, the advocate general of the EU Court of Justice has recognised their mandate as elected MEPs - but it is up to the parliament if they should enjoy immunity.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan politicians extradition hearing postponed
  2. Germany: EU banking union deal possible in December
  3. EIB: no more funding of fossil-fuel projects
  4. UK defence chief: Russia could trigger World War III
  5. Hungary's Varhelyi will face more questions
  6. Police put former Berlusconi MEP Comi under house arrest
  7. MEPs criticise Poland for criminalising sex education
  8. UK will not name new commissioner before election

Wilmès becomes first female PM of Belgium

On Sunday, Sophie Wilmès was appointed as the new prime minister of Belgium - becoming the first female head of government in the country's history. She replaces Charles Michel who becomes president of the European Council.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. Key moments for new commission This WEEK
  2. EU threatens legal action against UK over commissioner
  3. Corruption in the Balkans: the elephant in the room
  4. Green MEPs unconvinced by Romanian commissioner
  5. EU states fell short on sharing refugees, say auditors
  6. Hungary's commissioner-to-be grilled over loyalty to Orban
  7. Widow's plea as EU diplomats debate Magnitsky Act
  8. Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us