[JURIST] The Catalonia High Court of Justice [official website, in Spanish] announced [press release, in Spanish] Monday that it will open an investigation of the unofficial Catalan independence vote held in opposition of the central Spanish government. The formal investigation will center on Catalonia’s President Artus Mas, as well as Deputy Prime Minister Joana Ortega [official profiles, in Catalan] and Education Minister Irene Rigau [official profile] for their roles in organizing or facilitating the November 9 vote. The vote proceeded despite a ruling from the Spanish Constitutional Court [official website], which suspended the symbolic vote [JURIST report] on constitutional grounds.
Catalonian 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. 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 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.