Madrid unleashes its fury against Catalonia

Madrid unleashes its fury against Catalonia
By Catherine Hardy  with REUTERS

Politicians face criminal charges as Spain vows to revoke law

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says he will ask Spain’s constitutional court to revoke a referendum law passed on Wednesday by the Catalan parliament that sets the stage for an October 1 vote on splitting from Spain.

Rajoy told a press conference that the law, passed by a majority of Catalan lawmakers, was unconstitutional.

Spain’s state prosecutors’ office said on Thursday it would present criminal charges against leading members of the Catalan parliament for allowing Wednesday’s parliamentary vote to go ahead.

What happened on Wednesday?

Catalonia’s parliament voted on Wednesday to hold an independence referendum on October 1.

The winners, led by regional head Carles Puigdemont, sang the Catalan national anthem once the votes were counted.

After 12 hours of what was often chaotic debate in the Barcelona parliament, a majority voted for the referendum and the legal framework to set up a new state.

What are the details of the referendum?

They were revealed amid a tense atmosphere in the 135-seat regional government.

All Spanish citizens living in Catalonia will be asked “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent republic?”

There will be no minimum turnout requirement to make the result of the referendum binding.

Carles Puigdemont says ballot boxes, voting papers and an electoral census are at the ready.

The new assembly would declare independence within 48 hours of a “yes” vote.

But not everyone was in favour?

No. Lawmakers who opposed independence abandoned the chamber before the vote, with some leaving Catalan flags in their empty seats.

How has Spain responded?

The government in Madrid has vowed to stop what it says will be an illegal vote.

The government has asked the Spanish constitutional court to declare the referendum law void as soon as it is approved by the regional parliament.

The Spanish constitution states the country is indivisible.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told a news conference on Monday the government would come down with all the force of the law to ensure no referendum would go ahead.

Has this happened before?

Yes. Courts have already suspended from office and leveled millions of euros in fines at Catalan politicians who organised a non-binding referendum in 2014.

It returned a “yes” vote on a low turnout.

What do the polls say?

Polls in the northeastern region show support for self-rule waning as Spain’s economy improves.

However, the majority of Catalans do want the opportunity to vote on whether to split from Spain.

What they are saying

“Committed to freedom and democracy! We push on!” – Catalonia’s deputy governor Oriol Junqueras tweeted.

““What is happening in the Catalan parliament is embarrassing, it is shameful,” – Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria told reporters.

“You will not split up Spain, but you are breaking up Catalonia, you are putting social harmony at risk,” – Alejandro Fernandez of the governing People’s Party told pro-independence lawmakers.

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