Catalan independence referendum sparks growing concerns in Europe

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Catalan independence referendum sparks growing concerns in Europe

By
Alejandro López

11 August 2017

The Catalan independence referendum, planned for October 1 is setting the stage for a bitter clash between Madrid and Barcelona.

The Catalan secessionists—the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT) and the pseudo-left Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP)—are continuing to push forward with the referendum. The Popular Party government, Socialist Party (PSOE) and Citizens party are vehemently opposed, with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy swearing that “all means” will be used to prevent it taking place.

A confrontation is likely to take place later this month as the Catalan parliament starts the formal drafting of the referendum law and the law of disconnection—the legal foundation for the transition from the Spanish legal system to a new Catalan republic should the “Yes” vote win. This would come into effect, regardless of the level of participation, and ignoring the fact that most of those opposed to independence will not vote because as they regard the referendum as illegitimate.

The PP government, which has appealed to the Constitutional Court and been supported by its rulings, has already put in place a repressive framework targeting the secessionists. It has pursued prosecutions, disqualifications from public office, threats to civil servants who facilitate the referendum (such as setting up voting booths in public schools), encouraged interrogations by the Guardia Civil without judicial authorization and spied both “legally” and illegally on secessionist figures. The PP has also threatened to withhold central government funding if the regional government uses it to prepare for the referendum.

These measures are backed…

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