One of Spain’s regional presidents said Sunday he would officially call for a Nov. 9 vote designed to allow the Catalonia region to declare its independence from Madrid, setting the country on a course toward a legal and political crisis. The Catalan Parliament passed a law Friday that allowed Catalonia President Artur Mas to hold the referendum, although the Spanish central government has said it would block such a vote in the courts because it would violate the national constitution.
“The law ... will be used this week, in the next days, to call for the Nov. 9 vote,” Mas said at an event in the Catalan town of Cardona that was broadcast on Spain’s state-owned television network.
A pro-independence movement in the wealthy, industrial region has gained traction among Catalans in recent years of economic hardship. The commercial region pays far higher taxes than other regions, and while it accounts for 20 percent of Spain’s economic output, Catalonia receives only about 8 percent in return. The referendum scheduled in November would be similar to the one held in Scotland Thursday, when the majority voted to remain part of the U.K.
Mas said Friday the result of the Scottish referendum was disappointing, but the vote was an exemplary exercise in giving a voice to the people, according to the Wall Street Journal. Mas urged Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to follow U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s example by allowing Catalans to vote for or against independence.
“What happened in Scotland has been a positive lesson in democracy,” Mas said. “That is the only path to resolving this conflict, a democratic response.”