Spain: court suspends Catalonia independence vote

The Spanish Constitutional Court on Nov. 4 suspended (PDF) the Catalonia region's upcoming symbolic vote to gauge public sentiment for independence. The unanimous decision to hear the government's appeal effectively bans the vote until the parties present arguments and the court makes a ruling. This vote was planned as an alternative to a referendum on independence that the court suspended in September. The decision was based on Article 161.2 of the Spanish Constitution, which states that the government can appeal resolutions and provisions adopted by the "autonomous communities" of Spain. As more than two million Catalans planned to vote on Nov. 9, and extensive plans had already been made, the Catalan government intends to proceed with the vote despite the constitutional court's ruling.

Catalan independence has been an increasingly contentious topic in recent years, concerning issues of economic, political and cultural differences between Catalonia and the Spanish government. The initial November referendum planned to ask voters if they want Catalonia to become a state, and, in the case of an affirmative response, if they want this state to be independent. Catalan president Artur Mas in September signed a decree calling for a referendum on secession from Spain, inciting a confrontation with Spain's central government. In February Spain's parliament had rejected Catalonia's proposed referendum.

From Jurist, Nov. 4. Used with permission.

  1. Catalonia: new independence plan

    Artur Mas, head of Catalonia's regional government, announced Nov. 26 that he wants to call early regional elections, centred around the issue of independence from Spain. Mas told supporters in Barcelona he would aim to put together a coalition of all parties in favour of independence. He said if the joint list wins an absolute majority, it will be able to launch a process leading to creation of an independent Catalonia.

    Public prosecutors in Spain have filed legal proceedings against Mas and other Catalan officials after they held a non-binding referendum on independence on Nov. 9, despite a constitutional court suspension on the vote. Approximately 80% of voters said they wanted Catalonia to become independent of Spain. (EuroNews)

  2. Spain top court declares Catalan vote unconstitutional

    Spain's Constitutional Court on Feb. 25 ruled that a Nov. 9 Catalonia independence vote was unconstitutional (PDF). According to the court, both the decree from the Catalan regional government that allowed for the vote and two articles of a regional law passed in September on "non referenda popular consultations" are unconstitutional. A majority of the 2.3 million voters who cast ballots during the referendum favored Catalan independence. While the court ordered that the November vote be suspended while the government's complaint is considered, Catalonia has argued that it was merely an informal process. (Jurist)

  3. Catalan parliament votes for independence

    The Parliament of Catalonia on Nov. 9 approved a proposed resolution to begin separation from Spain. The measure, which passed by 72 to 63, calls for a "constituent process" with "citizen participation" to move towards independence over the next 18 months. Catalan nationalist parties won a majority of the seats in the September election. While the resolution states that the separation of Catalan from Spain is not subject to the decisions of Spani's Constitutional Court, it is likely that the court will decide that the resolution is unconstitutional. (Jurist)

  4. Spain high court blocks Catalonia secession

    TThe Constitutional Court of Spain on Nov. 11 suspended (PDF) Catalonia's secession resolution following an appeal by the Spanish central government asking the court to review the resolution. Many expect the Constitutional Court will declare the resolution unconstitutional. Catalan independence leaders have vowed to continue their fight for separation from Spain despite the court's formal suspension of their efforts. (Jurist)