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Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Spain court blocks symbolic Catalan independence vote

AFP , Tuesday 4 Nov 2014
Artur Mas
Catalonia's President Artur Mas (C) gestures to photographers after Catalonia's Parliament approved a regional consultation law in Barcelona September 19, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
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Spain's Constitutional Court on Tuesday blocked a symbolic independence referendum planned by the wealthy northeastern region of Catalonia for this weekend, at the request of the nation's central government.

The head of the Catalan regional government, Artur Mas, had called the symbolic vote after the court on September 29 suspended his initial bid to hold an official though non-binding independence referendum.

Spain's central government on Friday launched a fresh judicial challenge by petitioning the constitutional court to block the symbolic vote as well.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the Catalan plan for the symbolic referendum, with volunteer poll watchers and same-day voter registration, represents a "legal fraud" and "a perversion" of democracy.

The court "unanimously" agreed with the government's request to suspend the symbolic referendum, a court spokeswoman said.

Proud of their distinct language and culture, Catalonia's 7.5 million inhabitants have been demanding greater autonomy over recent years. The region accounts for nearly a fifth of Spain's economic output.

Mas has said the plan for a symbolic referendum is legal and has called on Catalans to vote on November 9 and "give a great lesson in democracy and civility".

But according to a poll published last week in top-selling daily newspaper El Pais, 49 percent of Catalans are against the watered-down referendum and 44 percent in favour.

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