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Spain top court declares Catalonia independence vote unconstitutional

[JURIST] Spain's Constitutional Court [official website, in Spanish] on Wednesday ruled that a November 9 Catalonia independence vote was unconstitutional [press release, PDF, in Spanish]. 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 [AP report]. 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.

Catalonia's independence [JURIST archives] has been a contentious topic in recent years concerning issues of economic, political and cultural differences between Catalonia and the Spanish government. Catalans have been increasingly supportive of separating from Spain, mainly because they feel Catalonia [BBC profile], an affluent region, pays more to Spain's central government than it gets in return and that the Spanish government is mostly at fault for the country's economic instability. In December the Catalonia High Court of Justice announced [JURIST report] its plans to open an investigation of the unofficial Catalan independence vote held in opposition of the central Spanish government. Last February Spain's parliament rejected [JURIST report] Catalonia's initial proposed November referendum.The initial 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. In September President Mas signed a decree [JURIST report] calling for a referendum on secession and independence from Spain, inciting confrontation from Spain's central government. Due to the court decision [JURIST report] against the vote, Catalans planned a mock vote instead of an official referendum to measure public sentiment on secession, which was again rejected [JURIST report] by the Spanish court until it makes a formal ruling.

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