[JURIST] The president of Spain’s Catalonia region [official website, in English] signed a decree [AP report] today calling for a referendum on secession and independence from Spain [official website, in English], inciting confrontation from Spain’s central government in Madrid [official website, in Spanish]. In a statement [statement, in Catalan and English] after the ceremonial signing, President Artur Mas [official website, in Catalan], emphasizing Catalonia’s “right to decide its political future,” announced that the independence vote would be held November 9. Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria [official bio, in English] stated that Spain’s Constitution [text, in English] does not permit sovereignty referendums unless all Spaniards can participate in the vote and that the Spanish government would quickly challenge the referendum in its Constitutional Court [official website, in English]. According to Mas, Catalan citizens, distinct from the rest of Spain with their own language and culture, have been actively demonstrating for independence since 2012. Although a vote for secession will not result in Catalonia independence, Mas asserts that it will give him political leverage to further negotiate independence.
This push for independence is one in a continuing effort by Catalonia to become a sovereign state. In February, Spain’s parliament rejected [JURIST report] Catalonia’s proposed November referendum, which will 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. 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.