Spanish court blocks Catalan Independence Referendum #indyref

A few days ago the Catalan President, Artur Mas signed a decree for a independence vote to be held on November 9th 2014. Speaking about holding the vote Mas said;

Our roots are deep, as is the strength of our feelings and our will to survive in the future. We want to decide, we want to decide our future for ourselves, and we now have the legal framework and are at the right moment to do it.

Obviously given heart by the turnout in Scotland and the level of engagement there, Mas finally took the plunge on Saturday but officially signing a decree. However, his counterparts in Madrid had other plans, as the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy called the bid to hold a vote illegal and illegitimate to allow a minority to break up the Spanish nation. Rajoy vowed to take the case to the Spanish constitutional court, who have duly backed Madrid and suspended the vote.

So, where does that leave things now?

The Spanish government has offered talks with the Catalan Administration, but only on the condition that it drops its demands for independence. Polls show a solid majority in favour of leaving Spain, with support averaging 54-55% over the last 6 months, in comparision the No side is far behind on around 23-25%.

The Catalan government has vowed to find a way for the vote to go ahead but, how I just do not know.

I know Cameron gets a lot of stick and rightly so, but when you compare his words/actions with Scotland to Rajoy and Catalonia, I know which PM I would rather deal with. Here is an exerpt from Cameron’s remarks after the Scottish vote;

The Scottish National Party (SNP) was elected in Scotland in 2011 and promised a referendum on independence. We could have blocked that; we could have put it off, but just as with other big issues, it was right to take – not duck – the big decision.

I am a passionate believer in our United Kingdom – I wanted more than anything for our United Kingdom to stay together.

But I am also a democrat. And it was right that we respected the SNP’s majority in Holyrood and gave the Scottish people their right to have their say

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  • Niall Chapman

    I’m currently living in Barcelona, and the end of this piece reflects how different the two situations are and how Catalans saw the Scottish Referendum. The night of the referendum I went to the only Scottish bar in the city, the place was packed with Scots who lived there but had never been to the bar before, all wanting to congregate away from home on an important night for their nationality.
    There were also some Catalans, curious as to the parralels and differences of the two votes, one told me of how Catalans thought that David Cameron was a progressive politician, something he would never be “accused” of in the UK.
    But the real reason that he was able to be percieved as progressive here is that he never thought it was going to go through never mind as close as it was. If he had made some sort of refusal this would have further heightened the calls from Scots for independence and maybe even swung the eventual vote the other way.
    The vote on the 9th of November for Catalunya will go ahead, and some here are worried that the troops could be sent in to halt the vote completely, but given the fact that this would deeply damage opinion of Rajoy and the Spanish Government in Europe it is highly unlikely, in a way some Catalans will be voting with their wallets, due to the fact that just like Scotland they give more to the Treasury than they receive in return, but more are motivated by their distinct Catalan identity and culture and the fact that Madrid tries to dilute this, the latest instance being trying to limit the amount of Catalan that is taught in schools as opposed to Castellano.
    The vote will be hard to call, but all the Catalans I have spoken to have said they will vote yes, the immigrants like myself and from the South of Spain however are unsure

  • Clanky

    I was just about to say something along the lines ohe big difference between the approaches taken by Rajoy and Cameron is that when Cameron gave the go ahead for the Scottish independence referendum a yes vote was almost unthinkable, a yes vote in Catalonia, is much more likely, but then saw that Niall had beaten me to it.

    Other than that Rajoy is probably the only politician more reprehensible than Cameron, although Spanish politics in general is in a much worse place than UK politics. As much as I disagree with Cameron’s policies and dislike him on a personal level, I don’t find myself clenching my fists and wanting to punch the screen every time I see him on TV, although if I lived in the UK rather than Spain I may do.

  • Clanky

    Actually the other big difference between the two referendums (referenda?) is that the Catalan referendum would not have been legally binding so there was less chance of people voting no out of fear of the unknown in the way that there was in Scotland or in fact, in the way that there would be amongst nationalists in a NI border poll.

  • Niall Chapman

    Does anyone no if there are any mechanisms in which a province or area can petition the EU in order to make a vote on secession legal afterwards or to force Madrid to allow it prior to occuring?

  • Olivia Anderson

    It seems this referendum date is just one move in an independence achieving chess game. Mr Mas knows that the calling of a referendum is unconstitutional and illegal. The suspension of the referendum was entirely predictable. Spanish congress voted 294-47 in April against a referendum. The Spanish Socialist Party PSOE, also supports Rajoy’s position. So this is certainly not about the obstructiveness of one player. So the question is what will Mas’s next move be?

  • RG Cuan

    Interesting you say that many non-Catalans are unsure about
    independence. This is obviously true for a lot of residents with a
    Spanish background but I’d like to know why you’re not totally sold on
    independencia, especially, as you say, as it makes financial sense.

  • Olivia Anderson

    My understanding is that the Spanish Constitution doesn’t allow a referendum in one region which will affect the whole country. It would have to be a nationwide referendum. A change in the Constitution requires the support of two thirds of Congress. I doubt EU would involve itself in the Constitutional matters of a member state especially as the fragmentation of members states is undesirable for EU.

  • Niall Chapman

    To be honest its for selfish reasons, me and a lot of my friends work for UK companies and its fairly easy for those companies to move jobs to Hungary etc in the midst of uncertainty in the market, but i wont be voting myself, i don’t think its right for me to have a say given the fact i may not be living here in 10/20 years

  • Bryan Magee

    If anything after Scotiand I would expect member states of the EU to take moves via EU law that make it harder for member states to break up.

  • Clanky

    I still think Mas will attempt to go ahead with the referendum and force Rajoy to physically stop it with troops if necessary. He is trying to build a narrative of Catalan self determination being prevented by a heavy handed Castellano government in Madrid.

  • John Valenciacf

    Actually in a way their opposition does come down to short term economic issues. More specifically, the language issue. An independent Catalonia is sure to push Catalan language more. Migrants, who will be in the main, from other parts of Spain, Latin America and Romania will usually speak Spanish but not Catalan. A lot of them won’t fancy being in a situation in the future where they have to invest significant time and money in learning another language, especially one which is fairly useless outside the region.

  • RG Cuan

    If you can speak Spanish you don’t need to invest that much time on learning Catalan, it’s not that dissimilar. As for money, the Catalan government already provides free lessons.

  • Oh I agree totally, but a lot of people don’t see it that way. They just see language learning as a chore, free or not. The free classes as well usually have limited numbers, they have similar stuff in Valencia and they’re usually regarded as an ineffective option.