The head of the regional government of Catalonia has bowed to pressure from his left-leaning allies in the run-up to a referendum on independence for the northeastern Spanish region on October 1. At a session on Wednesday in the regional parliament, Carles Puigdemont will seek to push through legislative measures allowing the government to officially call the vote ahead of the latter’s suspension by the country’s Constitutional Court.
If the government tries to withdraw the ballot boxes, then obviously we will mobilize voters to prevent this
Marta Rovira, ERC
The Catalan Republic Left party (ERC) and the Candidatura d’Unitat Popular (CUP), a small anti-capitalist party whose support is pivotal to Puigdemont, have said they will call street protests if the referendum does not go ahead.
“If the government tries to withdraw the ballot boxes, then obviously we will mobilize voters to prevent this so that the Generalitat [the regional government of Catalonia] and the electoral administration can guarantee that voting booths will open with normality,” said Marta Rovira, ERC’s spokesman, to Spanish news agency EFE.
Referring to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s determination not to allow the referendum to go ahead, Toni Comín, the region’s health chief, told Catalan daily Ara: “They will have to block it, and people will not stay at home if they do. We are heading toward the repression of institutions and eventually civil society will mobilize,” he said.
Rajoy is expected to appeal to the Constitutional Court against a decree issued in late July by the regional parliament of Catalonia approving reforms to allow laws to be passed after a single reading, meaning legislation required for the October 1 independence referendum could be fast-tracked with little or no debate. The Constitutional Court would then immediately suspend the referendum.
English version by Nick Lyne.