In a move many people thought would never happen, the Catalan parliament approved a referendum that would allow a vote on the region’s independence from Spain. The central government seeks intervention from the Constitutional Court. But short of invasion who is going to stop the vote?

The Spanish government has accused the Catalan Parliament of committing a “constitutional and democratic atrocity” by approving legislation to allow next month’s bitterly disputed independence referendum to go ahead.

On Wednesday night, the region’s ruling, pro-sovereignty coalition – which has a majority in the Catalan Parliament – managed to get the referendum law passed despite angry objections from opposition MPs, who complained that usual parliamentary procedures had been disregarded.

The legislation passed by 72 votes after 52 opposition MPs walked out of the chamber in Barcelona in protest at the end of an ill-tempered, 11-hour session.

The move was denounced by the Spanish government, which once again said it would do everything in its legal and political power to stop the vote from going ahead on 1 October.

The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, ordered government lawyers to file a complaint with the country’s constitutional court so that the vote could be annulled.

The public prosecutor’s office also said it was preparing a case against Catalan parliamentary officials – including the speaker, Carme Forcadell – for disobeying previous court orders forbidding legislative steps towards independence.

Catalan separatists insist the wealthy north-eastern region has a political, economic and cultural right to self-determination.

But Madrid is opposed to independence, arguing that it is a violation of the constitution, and has refused to offer a Scottish-style referendum on the matter.

Three months ago, Puigdemont announced that the referendum would be held on 1 October and that voters would be asked: “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent country in the form of a republic?”

More than 80% of participants opted for independence in the 2014 poll – although only 2.3 million of Catalonia’s 5.4 million eligible voters took part.

The Catalan government insists that the results of the October vote will be legally binding. If successful, the regional government will declare independence from Spain 48 hours after the result is in and set about building a sovereign state.

According to a poll at the end of July, 49.4% of Catalans are against independence while 41.1% support it. However, a poll this week found that, were the referendum to go ahead, the yes campaign would take 72% of the vote on a turnout of 50%.

The Catalan government has not set a threshold for minimum turnout, arguing the vote will be binding regardless of the level of participation.

Spain Moves to Block Catalonia Referendum

The Wall Street Journal reports Spain Moves to Block Catalonia Referendum on Independence.

The Spanish government on Wednesday asked a top court to block the Catalan regional government’s bid to hold a referendum on independence, the latest clash in what has become Spain’s most pressing political issue.

“The government has asked the Constitutional Court to declare null and void the adopted agreements,” Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said. “We are defending the rule of law in Spain and democracy in Catalonia,” she added.

The clash between the central government in Madrid and regional leaders in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, has been building for decades and began to accelerate when a financial crisis hit Spain several years ago. The economy has since recovered and support for independence in Catalonia has flagged somewhat. A majority of Catalans, however, still support a vote on whether the region should separate from Spain.

What It All About?

  1. Tax Collection – Catalonia is the industrial superstate of Spain. Catalonia sends far more to Madrid than it gets back. Secession would cost Spain approximately 20% of tax revenue.
  2. Language – Catalan is not a dialect of Spanish, but a language that developed independently out of the vulgar Latin spoken by the Romans who colonized the Tarragona area. It is spoken by 9 million people in Catalonia, Valencia, the Balearic Isles, Andorra and the town of Alghero in Sardinia. Since the early 1980s, the imposition of a system known as “immersion,” with Catalan as the only vehicular language in state schools, has guaranteed everyone educated in the past 30 years has a command of it. However, thanks to the presence of Spanish in daily life and the media, virtually all Catalans are perfectly bilingual.
  3. History – Dating back to 1150 and 1707 Catalonia was not part of Spain. Numerous kings tried with no success to end the Catalan language. Those attempts ended in 1931. The Telegraph has a nice historical perspective on Why Catalonia wants independence from Spain.


Eurozone Implications

The independence referendum is not a vote to leave the EU or the Eurozone.

As an independent country, Catalonia would have to apply for membership to the EU and to the Eurozone.

Mish Take

It’s certainly easy enough to draw a map of Spain without Catalonia.

I am in favor of just that. Short of invasion who is going to stop the vote?

Moreover, Catalonia could adopt the euro as its national currency whether or not it was officially part of the Eurozone by treaty.  It would not have the ability to print euros.

Inability to print money at will is an ideal setup.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock