Catalonia decides to maintain secession process from Spain

Pro-independence leaders in Catalonia express continuity of plans to break away from Spain despite suspension of Constitutional Court

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Catalan acting President Artur Mas addresses members of parliament in the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona, Spain.

The Catalan Parliament has voted to start the formal process of separation from Spain. The resolution, approved 72 to 63, declares "the start of the process to create the independent Catalan State in the form of a republic" on Monday, while the Spanish central government said they will take the decision to the Constitutional Court.

Catalonia, one of the autonomous regions of Spain, stated on Wednesday that it will resume its attempt to break away from the central government, following Spanish Constitutional Court suspended the decision of Catalans.

Meanwhile, early in November the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon denied the separation of autonomous Catalonia from Spain.

The Catalan Parliament, instead of these initiatives, continued with their decision to be an independent country in Iberian peninsula.

Catalonia with a population of 7.5 million and 32,000 square km of area makes up nearly 19 percent of Spain’s GDP, and has an unemployment rate of 19 percent compared to 21 percent nationwide.

“The political will of the government of Catalonia is to go ahead with the content of the resolution approved Monday by the Catalan parliament,” vice president of the Catalan government Neus Munte told reporters.

Munte referring to ongoing debates and vote in the government saying “We are fulfilling and will continue to fulfill the mandate of a sovereign parliament.”

Catalan acting President Artur Mas (R) gestures, while seated next to Neus Munte, during the election session for the new President at Catalonia's Parliament in Barcelona, Spain / Photo by Reuters

Oriol Junqueras one of the Catalan independence leaders, tweeted on his personal account: "The will of the Catalan people cannot be suspended. We are committed to continue with our democratic mandate."

The decision of the Court will suspend Catalan legislation up to five months while judges hear the arguments and reach a decision.  Following a special meeting on Wednesday, the court unanimously agreed to hear the central government’s challenge.

Prime Minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy, described the initiatives of Catalan legislation as an affront to democracy.

“It’s not just a reaction to a motion passed in parliament, this is about defending a whole country,” said Rajoy.

Rajoy, referring to Spanish constitution which refuses regions unilaterally break away from the country when it affects all Spaniards, said “This is a blatant disregard for the state’s institutions. They are trying to do away with democracy. I will not allow it.”

The Catalan legislation calls for independent social security system and tax authority within the next 30 days.

If the decision taken by Catalan legislation would be blocked by Spanish courts, the legislation remarks that the regional parliament will no longer follow the decisions made by the Spanish institutions and especially of the Constitutional Court.

Earlier this year Spanish government passed legislation that outlines sanctions and suspensions for leaders who fail to comply with the orders of the constitutional court.

In September, Catalan legislation turn regional elections into a de facto referendum on independence and the parties gained 48 percent of votes for independence while the threshold is 50 percent for a referendum.

Rajoy described on Wednesday the attempt of Catalan legislation as "hijacking of democracy by a minority."

“We’re defending the rights of all citizens, particularly the rights of citizens in Catalonia,” he said. “They are trying to eliminate national sovereignty, to take away from Spaniards and many in Catalonia the right to decide what the country is, that does not happen in any country in the world and less so in the 21st century.”

TRTWorld and agencies