The leader of Spain’s Catalonia region, Artur Mas, called off plans on Tuesday to hold an independence referendum on November 9, but said that an unofficial vote will be held the same day to gauge support for secession.
Separatists in Catalonia, which has 7.5 million people, have been trying for several years to hold a vote to break away from Spain and carve out a new Mediterranean nation.
Mas insisted his regional government was not backtracking with the decision. He said it still intends to push ahead with an official vote at a later date, but added that the symbolic vote would serve as a “preliminary” ballot.
“The Catalan government maintains its goal of holding a referendum on November 9, it means there will be polling stations open, with ballot boxes and ballots,” said Mas. “It will depend on the people for a strong enough participation to show that people here want to vote.”
Mas was forced to suspended the referendum after the Spanish government challenged its legality before Spain’s Constitutional Court, which suspended its staging while it deliberates on the issue.
Spain says only the Spanish state can call referendums on sovereignty and that all Spaniards would be entitled to vote.
Mas said with the referendum suspended, the Catalan government would rely on another law that allows a public consultation. He said the decision had caused a fracture among the region’s pro-vote parties.
(FRANCE 24 with AP)
Date created : 2014-10-14