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Mas defies Madrid: Catalonia will go ahead with the independence referendum

Thursday, April 10th 2014 - 06:02 UTC
Full article 23 comments
Mas already has a date for the referendum, November 9 Mas already has a date for the referendum, November 9

Catalonia President Artur Mas said he would forge ahead with his region's plans to hold a referendum on independence in November after Spain's parliament overwhelmingly rejected the petition. After a seven-hour debate in Madrid, and despite heavy support for the separatist movement in the wealthy northeastern region, 299 lawmakers voted against, 47 voted for and one abstained.

 The regional parliament of Catalonia, which has its own language and a long history of fighting for greater autonomy from Spain, sent the initiative to the national legislature in January asking for permission to hold a referendum.

“They are afraid that the Catalan people vote. Some would like to present this as the end of the matter but, as President of Catalonia, I say to them that it is not the end,” Mas said in a live speech in Catalan immediately after votes were counted.

“Catalan institutions will search through the legal frameworks to find a way to continue with this consultation.”

Catalan lawmakers said the movement had already gained too much momentum to stop the referendum completely.

All the major parties, including the ruling conservative People's Party (PP), the main opposition group, the Socialists, and the centrist Union for Progress and Democracy (UPyD), voted against the petition. Catalan and Basque nationalist parties voted in favor.

“Maybe I believe in Catalonia more than you do. I love Catalonia like it was my own,” Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said during the debate. “Together we all win, but separate, we all lose. This isn't just a question of law, but of sentiment ... I can't imagine Spain without Catalonia, or Catalonia out of Europe.”

The specter of a breakaway Catalonia, which accounts for a fifth of the Spanish economy and 16% of its population, has become a big headache for Rajoy, who is battling high unemployment and the scars of a deep recession.

Mas has already set a date of Nov. 9 for the referendum, two months after an independence vote in Scotland that is being closely watched in Catalonia.

Rajoy has said he will use the courts to block the Catalan government from holding the vote, though Mas argues that if it is a non-binding consultation, it should be legal.

Mas has also signaled he will not break the law. So if the referendum is shut down by the courts, he is expected to use the next election in Catalonia, which must be held by 2016, as a proxy vote on independence.

Categories: Politics, International.

Top Comments

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  • Anglotino

    With regions within Spain wanting to leave; you would have to be deluded to imagine that Gibraltans would actually want to become part of such a dysfunctional state.

    When Spain makes itself desirable enough for Catalonians and Basques to want to stay Spanish; then perhaps it will stand a chance with Gibraltar.

    But after 300 years they are yet to accomplish that.

    Apr 10th, 2014 - 09:57 am 0
  • A_Voice

    Don't think you thought that one through Skip...

    With regions within UK wanting to leave; you would have to be deluded to imagine that anyone would actually want to become part of such a dysfunctional state.

    Apr 10th, 2014 - 11:15 am 0
  • zathras

    Just wondering will Russia accept this referendum as a true will of the people.

    Also Given Russia claimed hypocrisy in the UK defaming the Crimea referendum.
    Does that mean Russia was supportive of the Falkland Islands referendum?

    Apr 10th, 2014 - 12:12 pm 0
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