Catalonia defies Madrid, proceeds with controversial secession vote

Catalonia defies Madrid, proceeds with controversial secession vote

Catalonia’s regional government will attempt to hold a referendum on independence from Spain today in the biggest threat to Spanish stability since democracy was restored in 1978. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, supported by the Constitutional Court, has cracked down hard to stop the vote. He has the support of the EU which fears the break-up of other member countries if

Catalan independence vote

Photo: AFP

Catalonia’s regional government will attempt to hold a referendum on independence from Spain today in the biggest threat to Spanish stability since democracy was restored in 1978.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, supported by the Constitutional Court, has cracked down hard to stop the vote. He has the support of the EU which fears the break-up of other member countries if a precedent is set in Catalonia. Despite this, Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont remains defiant, saying the vote will still go ahead.

If the poll proceeds, yes campaigners are favoured to win. Despite polls slightly favouring the no vote, most no voters will boycott. A yes vote will see Puigdemont declare independence within 48 hours. Spain will then likely invoke Article 155, cancelling Catalonian autonomy and possibly arresting Puigdemont. If the answer is no, the matter will die down but Puigdemont’s separatists will continue to agitate for secession.

Regardless of the result, Spain’s tenuous unity has been shaken. Catalonia has set a precedent for other restive regions; especially the Basque region. Madrid may be forced to grant further autonomy to the regions.

 

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