Spain attempts to stamp on democracy in Catalonia

Catalonia (Catalan: Catalunya) is located on the northeastern extremity of the Iberian Peninsula. It has its own language, laws and customs. Catalan nationalist parties won an absolute majority in the 135-seat regional assembly in 2015 and voted to start the process towards independence. An independence referendum has been called for October 2017 and the question to be voted on will be: "Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic?

Now the ruling coalition in Catalonia has said that if the vote is in favour of separation from Spain, Catalonia will declare independence "immediately". Gabriela Serra, a member of the separatist coalition that governs Catalonia has said: "If the majority of votes are for creating a Catalan republic, obviously independence will have to be declared immediately." Catalonia is on a direct collision course with Madrid with the Spanish government doing all in their power to prevent the referendum taking place. Now the coalition will submit a vote in the Catalan Parliament at the end of August aimed at extracting Catalonia from Spain's legal system. This is a bid to circumvent all legal and practical challenges to organising a referendum.

The Spanish government response is predictably hostile to even allowing Catalonia's right to hold a democratic vote that would be similar to Scotland's 2014 independence referendum from Britain. The Spanish Constitutional Court has already rejected a resolution approved by Catalonia's parliament calling for the referendum to take place. Catalonia's elected officials have been warned that they will face legal consequences if they take any steps towards holding such a vote. The Spanish government has also threatened civil servants with sanctions if they help organise the referendum.

Despite the warnings that they will be in defiance of the constitution numerous municipalities have indicated they will defy the constitution to enable the vote to take place. The Spanish government has responded by sending a warning letter to 947 municipalities from all over Catalonia, four provincial councils and 42 counties. Spanish government attempts to stamp on the Catalan people's democratic right to vote on independence is likely to only increase hostility to Spain. The threat to stifle democracy has resulted in demonstrations in Catalonia with a clear message that even though the Spanish state does not want it, Catalans are determined to decide upon their own future.

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