Catalan parliament paves the way for independence vote

Geneva Matthews
September 7, 2017

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.

Amid the chaos, accusations of procedural flaws by the opposition and numerous pauses in the meeting, Spain's deputy prime minister made a televised appearance to announce that Rajoy's conservative government was urging the Constitutional Court to take punitive measures against the Catalan legislative body's committee of speakers.

The president of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, called for a recess in Wednesday's parliamentary meeting after heated discussions erupted following a last-minute decision to hold the vote on the so-called "referendum bill".

However, the Spanish Constitutional Court is already expected to review the law this week and declare it null and void, as it has done with similar attempts in the past.

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.

Politicians who oppose independence for the wealthy northeastern region of Spain abandoned the chamber before the vote.

There will be no minimum turnout requirement to make the result of the referendum binding, Puigdemont said in a recent briefing.

Lawmakers who back independence won an absolute majority in the 135-seat Catalan regional parliament for the first time in a September 2015 election.

Spain's Court of Auditors ruled Tuesday that the officials should repay as bail the public funds it cost to hold the 2014 vote that the country's Supreme Court had deemed unconstitutional.

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

"Everyone is looking at each other, and they don't have confidence in each other, but there is nobody (In Catalonia) able to show leadership and ask 'what are we doing?' when it seems that the most logical thing to do at this moment is to rectify", continued Rajoy. Central authorities have vowed to stop the vote.

According to the Generalitat, the draft law will be higher in legal power than all the laws and legislation that might contradict the bill.

"If Catalonia were to leave Spain, then Barcelona would have the luxury of choosing which League they wished to participate in".

The vote comes about three weeks after Barcelona and a nearby town were struck by Islamist attacks that killed 16 people and caused the Catalan and Spanish governments to present a brief united front.

Be very clear that you will not split up Spain, but you are breaking up Catalonia.

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