Friday, June 9, 2017

Catalonia sets date for landmark vote on independence from Spain

The autonomous region of Catalonia will have the decisive referendum on secession from Spain on October 1, the regional government announced on Friday. The move comes after a months-long standoff with Madrid, which decries the vote as illegal.

The president of the Catalan government, Carles Puigdemont, said that voters in the upcoming referendum would be asked the sole question: “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic?”

Puigdemont explained that previous attempts to negotiate a date and the content of the referendum question with Madrid came to no result, prompting Catalonia to proceed unilaterally.

"We have always made very diverse offers and all of them have been rejected without any exception," Puigdemont said.

Puigdemont’s secessionist government insists that the populous industrialized region of Spain - which has its capital in Barcelona - has political, economic and cultural rights to self-determination. His predecessor, Artur Mas, was barred from public office for two years in mid-March for staging an informal referendum on secession back in 2014.

The 2014 independence referendum was set up in Catalonia despite the Spanish Constitution Court declaring it illegal.

During the mock vote, 80 percent of voters supported independence from Madrid, although less than half of the region’s 5.4 million population took part.

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