Pro independence supporters gather outside the Generalitat Palace, the main head office of the Government of Catalonia on Saturday.

The president of Spain’s powerful northeastern region of Catalonia on Saturday formally called an independence referendum, the latest secession push in Europe and one of the most serious challenges to the Spanish state in recent years.

Decree signed

Catalan leader Artur Mas signed the decree to call the referendum in a solemn ceremony in the regional government headquarters in Barcelona, flanked by most of the region’s political leaders who support the vote.

“Like all the nations of the world, Catalonia has the right to decide its political future,” said Mr. Mas.

Two hours after Mr. Mas spoke, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the Spanish government will hold an emergency cabinet meeting within days so the referendum can be challenged before Spain’s Constitutional Court.

“This referendum will not be held because it is unconstitutional,” she told reporters during a rare Saturday press conference.

Pro-independence sentiment in the economically strong region, where the Catalan language is spoken side-by-side with Spanish, has surged in recent years, fuelled by a sense that the region deserves better fiscal and political treatment from Madrid.

The announcement came a week after Scotland voted against breaking away from Britain.

Evenly split

Polls indicate most Catalans favour holding the referendum but are roughly evenly split on independence. Pro-independence fervour fades when people are asked if they favour an independent Catalonia outside the European Union (EU), as the region has been warned would happen.

The referendum has stirred debate about whether the 1978 Spanish Constitution should be updated to accommodate Catalonia’s demands for more power while maintaining the 17-region country unified. Separatist sentiment is also very strong in the northern Basque region.

Share this article:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
ALSO READ  Iranian fuel seized by US to arrive in Texas

Notice: All comments represent the view of the commenter and not necessarily the views of AMN.

All comments that are not spam or wholly inappropriate are approved, we do not sort out opinions or points of view that are different from ours.

This is a Civilized Place for Public Discussion

Please treat this discussion with the same respect you would a public park. We, too, are a shared community resource — a place to share skills, knowledge and interests through ongoing conversation.

These are not hard and fast rules, merely guidelines to aid the human judgment of our community and keep this a clean and well-lighted place for civilized public discourse.

Improve the Discussion

Help us make this a great place for discussion by always working to improve the discussion in some way, however small. If you are not sure your post adds to the conversation, think over what you want to say and try again later.

The topics discussed here matter to us, and we want you to act as if they matter to you, too. Be respectful of the topics and the people discussing them, even if you disagree with some of what is being said.

Be Agreeable, Even When You Disagree

You may wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it. That’s fine. But remember to criticize ideas, not people. Please avoid:

  • Name-calling
  • Ad hominem attacks
  • Responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content
  • Knee-jerk contradiction

Instead, provide reasoned counter-arguments that improve the conversation.