MADRID – Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday described as “authoritarian delirium” plans by the ruling parties in the northeastern Catalonia region to declare independence from Spain within 48 hours of a promised referendum Oct. 1, if voters say “yes.”
Rajoy told a business meeting that Spaniards and Catalans could rest assured that the “confrontational’ gestures of the pro-independence parties will never win over the democratic state.
He was speaking a day after Catalonia’s governing parties presented details of a proposed law covering the planned referendum. The law says if the “yes” vote wins, independence will be declared within two days regardless of the vote’s turnout percentage.
Spain has pledged there will be no referendum because it violates the country’s constitution.
Also Wednesday, the Constitutional Court formally ruled that the Catalan government could not use part of its 2017 budget to finance the referendum, following a legal challenge by the Spanish government.
Catalonia and Spain have been at loggerheads for years because of the regional government’s plans to hold a secession vote. The government has challenged in the Constitutional Court nearly every measure taken by the Catalan government and has succeeded in blocking most. In addition, prosecutors have opened legal proceedings against several former and current Catalan officials over the issue.
In the promised referendum, Catalans would be asked to answer yes or no to a single question: “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?”
Polls consistently show the 7.5 million Catalans are evenly divided on independence, but a majority supports holding a referendum.
The region has failed to win the backing of any major country or international body to hold the vote without Spain’s approval.
Catalonia, whose capital is Barcelona, represents a fifth of Spain’s GDP.