The Catalan government has requested Spain’s constitutional court to allow a planned referendum on its independence to go ahead as scheduled, a poll which Madrid wants blocked.
Francesc Homs, spokesman for the Catalan government, said Monday that it had presented a petition to the court “to prevent the constitutional court from suspending Sunday’s referendum.”
The request came after Spain’s central government asked the top court on October 31 to block the vote.
Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria has claimed that Catalan’s symbolic referendum represents a “legal fraud” and “a perversion” of democracy.
Catalonia’s President Artur Mas has condemned the central government for taking legal action against the vote, accusing Madrid of abusing its power.
Meanwhile, prominent Catalan politician, Oriol Junqueras, has warned Madrid that the wealthy region could drive the central government to default on its debts if Madrid does not negotiate the vote.
Mas originally planned to hold an official non-binding referendum on November 9. But he later downgraded it to a symbolic vote after the Spanish government declared Catalonia’s bid for independence illegal.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy argues that Catalonia’s independence bid disrespects “democratic conditions.”
If the symbolic referendum is held, a “Yes” vote will not automatically lead to the secession of the region but only gives the Catalan president the mandate to negotiate independence with the Spanish administration.
The wealthy northeastern region of Spain has a population of 7.6 million people, accounting for nearly one-fifth of the country’s economy, and has been seeking independence for years.