Artur Mas, president of the Spanish region of Catalonia has signed a decree on Saturday to hold a referendum on independence. He said that “Catalonia wants to decide pacifically and democratically its political future” adding that “Nobody should fear that somebody expresses his opinion by placing a vote in a ballot box.”
The referendum is expected to take place on November 9th. According to the central government in Madrid, any vote would be illegal.
The Spanish government quickly reacted to the news by denouncing the move and labelling the plan as unconstitutional. It has promised on previous occasions that it would block the vote. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has vowed to push the nation’s constitutional court to rule swiftly that such an independence vote would breach the constitution. He said that Mas had acted irresponsibly and “put himself into a mess.”
Rajoy is expected to take action at a special cabinet meeting this coming week and is likely to take the dispute to the Constitutional Court of the country. Artur Mas, on the other hand, said he can use local laws to hold the vote.
Catalonia is considered to be one of Spain’s richest and most industrialized regions. Until recently, few Catalans have wanted full independence, but Spain’s economic crisis has been a determining factor for the rise of support for independence, according to some analysts.