Spain’s state prosecutor [official website, in Spanish] on Wednesday summoned 712 Catalonian mayors who have said they will allow the use of public space for an independence referendum that is due to take place October 1. Last week the Spanish Constitutional Court [official website] suspended [JURIST report] the referendum and agreed to hear arguments to determine if it violates the Spanish Constitution which states that the nation is “indivisible.” The prosecutor plans [Reuters report] to charge officials who have been involved with preparations for the vote with civil disobedience, abuse of office and misuse of public funds. Police are instructed to arrest those who do not respond to the summons and were given additional orders [Al Jazeera report] to seize flyers, ballot boxes and other items that could be used for the referendum. Regional government officials have 48 hours to show the Constitutional Court how they are preventing the referendum from happening.
The Catalonia independence movement has gathered momentum in recent years following the economic crisis in the country that began in 2008. In 2015 the Constitutional Court of Spain declared unconstitutional [JURIST report] a resolution by the Parliament of Catalonia that proposed a plan for the region’s independence from Spain by the end of this year. In September of 2015 the High Court of Justice of Catalonia summoned [JURIST report] Catalonia President Artur Mas over his involvement in the 2014 independence referendum. In 2014 Mas signed a decree [JURIST report] calling for a referendum on secession and independence from Spain, inciting confrontation from Spain’s central government in Madrid. In February 2014 Spain’s parliament rejected [JURIST report] Catalonia’s proposed referendum, which asked voters if they wanted Catalonia to become a state, and, in the case of an affirmative response, if they wanted this state to be independent. When Catalonia proceeded with the referendum, the Constitutional Court held the independence vote to be unconstitutional [JURIST report].