Catalonia unruffled by Spanish challenge to independence vote

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Madrid, Nov 1 (IANS/EFE) Artur Mas, leader of the regional administration in Catalonia, said that he plans to press ahead with a symbolic vote on independence despite a fresh legal challenge from the Spanish government.

Mas originally planned a formal independence referendum Nov 9, but Spain’s Constitutional Court effectively blocked it by agreeing to hear the central government’s motion against the plebiscite.
Mas then changed tactics, by presenting an informal ‘citizen participation process’ that would exclude the use of official voter rolls.
The symbolic vote would begin Nov 9 and continue for two weeks.
But the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is now asking the Constitutional Court to bar that exercise as well, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said at the end of Friday’s cabinet meeting.
The central government wants to avoid a fraud against its citizens and to protect Catalan regional officials from possible prosecution for involvement in a process that has been deemed illegal, she said.
Hours after the announcement from Saenz de Santamaria, Mas told a press conference Friday that preparations for the informal vote on independence were continuing and said his administration would bring legal action against the central government.
The informal vote would be organised by volunteers without any involvement of public employees, Mas said.
Catalonia, one of Spain’s wealthiest regions, enjoys a high degree of autonomy, but has often complained that it pays more into the Madrid state coffers than it gets back.
Nearly two million people took to the streets of Barcelona Sep 11, the Catalan national holiday, to voice their support for a referendum on independence.

Last modified: November 1, 2014