The leader of Spain’s Catalonia region Artur Mas, signed a decree Saturday, calling an independence referendum to be conducted on Nov. 9, despite the Spanish government stating that the move would violate the constitution. Spain reacted to the decree by saying that it would block the referendum by appealing to the country's Constitutional Court.
The decree was signed by Mas in a ceremony held in the regional government premises in Barcelona. Once Spain gets its Constitutional Court to hear the case, Catalonia will have to hold off the vote till a final decision is announced, which may take months, the Wall Street Journal reported. While Mas had stated that he would abide by the court rulings, many in the region have reportedly insisted on proceding with the vote regardless of the court's decision.
Any proposed vote would put the wealthy industrial region on-track for a showdown with the Spanish central government, which is struggling to fight off an economic crisis.
"Like all the nations of the world, Catalonia has the right to decide its political future," Mas said, according to Associated Press, or AP, adding: "We are open to negotiating the conditions of the referendum until the last moment.”
Following Mas' call for the referendum, several supporters gathered in front of the Catalan government building in the center of Barcelona, chanting “independence,” AP reported.
"If they think in Madrid that by using legal frameworks they can stop the will of the Catalan people, they are wrong," Mas had said, according to BBC, at the time of the Scotland referendum, which resulted in Scotland deciding to stay with the UK.
Salvador Cardus, a member of the National Transition Advisory Council, a group of intellectuals preparing the Catalan government's independence strategy, said according to the Journal, "The idea is to move forward under the assumption there will be a vote on Nov. 9 while waiting to see if the government of Spain commits some big political mistake," adding: "It will be a question of seeing which side maintains composure and a cool head until Nov. 9."