Spain's government asks court to strike down Catalan referendum law

Saul Bowman
September 7, 2017

The referendum law establishes an "exceptional judicial regime" that will prevail over any Spanish laws that come into conflict with the illegal independence referendum, and states it will safeguard those who participate in the vote.

The tense debates over the bill in the Catalan parliament lasted 11 hours on Thursday, with opposition fiercely attacking the Catalan government for disrespecting democracy and the rule of law, both in the unconventional way the parliament passed the bill and because of its contents.

Mas is the highest-ranking among Catalan politicians suspended from office and fined by the country's Supreme Court for organizing a non-binding vote on independence in 2014.

Catalonia's parliament voted on Wednesday to hold an independence referendum on October 1, setting up a clash with the Spanish government that has vowed to stop what it says would be an illegal vote.

The political crisis comes after years of defiance by pro-independence supporters in Catalonia and amid criticism of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government in Madrid for letting the situation come to this.

Opposition lawmakers in Catalonia are contesting a decision by the head of the regional parliament to vote on a bill that paves the way for a controversial independence referendum.

The government has asked the Spanish constitutional court to declare the referendum law void as soon as it is approved by the regional parliament.


The cabinet that makes up the executive branch of Catalonia's government has unanimously endorsed a decree calling for an October 1 "binding self-determination referendum" on the region's independence from Spain.

Tensions are running high among Catalan lawmakers as the regional parliament chose to vote on a bill that lays the ground for a controversial referendum on independence from Spain.

"What is happening in the Catalan parliament is embarrassing, it's shameful", Saenz de Santamaria told reporters in Madrid.

The return to solid growth has weakened public backing for independence, although polls show that nearly eight out of 10 Catalans want to have the right to vote. The government that emerged from that vote vowed to begin the process of breaking away from Spain.

In response to the move, Spain's public prosecutor announced it was readying legal paperwork to sue the speakers, including Forcadell, for disobeying previous court orders and for abusing power.

Catalonia is a prosperous region in northeastern Spain that already enjoys ample self-government.

Catalonia, a region of 7.5 million people with its own language and culture, accounts for about 20 percent of Spain's economic output, and has significant powers over matters such as education, healthcare and welfare.

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