The escalating confrontation between Madrid and Barcelona over the planned November 9 referendum on self-rule resumed on Monday, when the central government asked the Constitutional Court to annul an electoral committee appointed by Catalan authorities to oversee the vote.
The center-right Popular Party (PP) feels that Catalan premier Artur Mas is in breach of the court’s decision to suspend all referendum-related activities until it rules on a PP appeal against the vote.
Although the CiU nationalist bloc-ruled regional government initially heeded the suspension notice, pressure from other pro-independence parties actively pushed Mas to greenlight the oversight committee on October 3.
The main opposition Socialist Party also opposes the Catalan referendum
Madrid has challenged that move just as it challenged the Catalan law paving the way for the referendum. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s line of reasoning is that a unilateral vote in Catalonia would be illegal because it deprives all Spaniards of their constitutional right to vote on matters that affect the entire nation.
Instead, Rajoy is telling Catalan nationalists to work on reforming the Constitution to get what they want. At the same time, the prime minister has admitted that constitutional reform is not a priority for his government.
The main opposition Socialist Party also opposes the Catalan referendum, and instead suggests a new, looser state structure based on federalism, but whose details so far remain unclear.