Spain's government says Catalonia's independence referendum scheduled for November is unconstitutional and wants its high court to ban the vote. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Monday the non-binding independence referendum wasn't "compatible with the Spanish constitution," according to BBC News. A majority of Catalans want to hold the referendum on independence, polls show.
Rajoy held an emergency cabinet meeting Monday to discuss ways to prevent the vote. While it could take years for the constitutional court to rule on the referendum's legality, the vote would effectively be suspended if the court accepts the case. The court was expected to hold an emergency meeting Monday to make its decision.
Catalonia's independence movement is partially inspired by the recent failed effort to see Scotland become its own nation outside the United Kingdom. Barcelona has long sought greater independence from Madrid and voters there hope they will be able to eventually form an independent nation after the Nov. 9 referendum. The wealthy north-eastern region has its own language and distinct culture. The looming referendum has seen hundreds of thousands of Catalans protest in Barcelona in recent weeks, demanding the right to vote.
Catalonia represents 16 percent of Spain's population and nearly one-fifth of Spain's GDP. Government leaders in Madrid are worried that a successful independence movement there would trigger similar movement in other restless parts of the country, including the Basque region. "Nobody and nothing will be allowed to break up Spain," Rajoy said.
The Catalan leader, Artur Mas, formally called for the November independence referendum on Saturday, a week after the Catalan parliament passed a law paving the way for non-binding consultations in the region, according to the Guardian. Voters will answer two questions: whether Catalonia should be a state and, if so, whether it should be an independent state.
"Catalonia has the right to decide its political future," Mas said. "We know that democracy is the most civilized way to resolve difficulties between nations."