Catalonia’s regional government plans for independence

Catalonia’s regional government plans for independence

Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont has set today as the deadline to establish structures and institutions for the region to operate

Photo: Reuters/Gustau Nacarino

Photo: Reuters/Gustau Nacarino

Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont has set today as the deadline to establish structures and institutions for the region to operate as a state independent from Spain. The move comes ahead of an independence referendum scheduled for October 1.

Mr Puigdemont’s goal includes establishing an independent justice system and adopting Spain’s international treaties post-independence. While separatists won a non-binding plebiscite in 2014, polling shows the anti-independence camp with a narrow 4% lead ahead of October’s poll.

Regardless of the outcome, Spain’s Constitutional Court will likely void the vote ahead of time, as it did in 2014. Mariano Rajoy has declared there will be no binding referendum “as long as I am prime minister.” It’s little wonder why; without Catalonia, Spain would lose 16% of its population, a fifth of its GDP, and Barcelona—its most visited city.

While Rajoy refuses to let Catalonia go he cannot ignore independence-seekers. Continued obstinacy from Madrid may drive Mr Puigdemont to take more drastic measures—including seizing central government assets in Catalonia.