Tension Grows in Spain over Secessionist Referendum in Catalonia

Erica Roy
September 16, 2017

President of the Catalan Government Carles Puigdemont (R) signs a decree calling independence referendum past Catalan regional vice-president and chief of Economy and Finance and leader of the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) leftist Republican Party Oriol Junqueras at the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona, on September 6, 2017.

Parties that oppose independence will not take part in the campaign for the vote, and have asked their supporters to boycott it.

The government of the wealthy northeastern region has pledged to hold a referendum on breaking away from Spain on October 1 in defiance of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who has declared the event illegal and is bringing the weight of the state to bear to prevent it.

The Association of Municipalities for Independence has written to hundreds of Catalan officials assuring them that they are doing nothing wrong in helping to run the ballot, despite such actions defying Spain's constitutional court.

Some 712 of them have already been summoned to appear in court for their open support for the referendum.

Catalonia's governor and the mayor of its biggest city Barcelona appealed to Spain's premier and king on Friday for dialogue to resolve the region's increasingly bitter tussle with Madrid.

The credibility of the referendum got a boost on Thursday when Barcelona's mayor said the vote would be allowed to take place in the city.

Citizens also are divided over the independence issue.

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Carles Ruiz, the Socialist mayor of Viladecans, a town of 65,000 residents, denounced "pressure" on those mayors who refuse to participate in the referendum on social media or in person.

The Spanish government said on Friday it would continue controlling Catalan spending so long as "the exceptional situation" continued, referring to the regional government's plans to hold an independence referendum it says is illegal.

"Some post photos of the mayors or of their homes", he told AFP. Catalonia has only 16 percent of Spain's population but accounts for a fifth of its economic output.

The pro-separatist camp argues that a referendum represents their right to self-determination. Once again this week, Rajoy has rejected sanctioning a self-determination vote, telling reporters "there cannot be a referendum and it would be an absolutely illegal act".

The Spanish government has promised to stop at nothing to prevent the referendum from happening, including seizing ballot boxes and election materials.

Scotland's nationalists hope the country's pro-EU stance will translate into votes for independence.

Junqueras told yesterday's gathering that more than 47,000 volunteers were willing to help out with the vote.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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