[JURIST] The Spanish Constitutional Court [official website, in Spanish] on Tuesday suspended [motion, PDF, in Spanish] the Catalonia region’s upcoming symbolic vote to gauge public sentiment for independence. The unanimous decision to hear the government’s appeal effectively bans the vote until the parties present arguments and the court makes a ruling. This vote was planned as an alternative to a non-binding referendum vote for independence that the court suspended in September [JURIST report]. The decision was based on Article 161.2 of the Spanish Constitution [text], which states that the government can appeal resolutions and provisions adopted by the “autonomous communities” of Spain. As more than two million Catalans planned to vote Sunday, and extensive plans had already been made, the Catalan government intends to proceed [WSJ report] with the vote despite the constitutional court’s ruling.
Catalonia independence [JURIST backgrounder] has been a contentious topic in recent years concerning issues of economic, political and cultural differences between Catalonia and the Spanish government. The initial November 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 Catalan president Artur Mas [official website, in Catalan] signed a decree [JURIST report] calling for a referendum on secession and independence from Spain, inciting confrontation from Spain’s central government. In February Spain’s parliament rejected [JURIST report] Catalonia’s proposed November referendum.