The leader of the wealthy Catalonia region Tuesday said that he would move forward with a controversial plan to hold a vote on independence in November, but under a revised process that both supporters and opponents say would lend decidedly less legitimacy to the outcome. Catalan leader Artur Mas said he was abandoning his original plan for a nonbinding referendum set for Nov. 9, because he saw no hope of persuading Spain’s constitutional court to lift an injunction barring the vote. In remarks Tuesday in Barcelona, Mr. Mas acknowledged the new voting plan, with volunteer election officials and no voter-roll, wouldn’t be “definitive” and was vague about many of the operational details. The revised plan “is more an act of citizen participation, like a petition drive, rather than a referendum or an election,” said Lluís Orriols, a political scientist at Carlos III University in Madrid.
Mr. Mas said polling places would be set up in regional government buildings on Nov. 9 and Catalans aged 16 and over could cast ballots. Some 20,000 volunteers would help oversee the process and it would also count on the cooperation of hundreds of municipal governments that have backed the referendum, he said. Mr. Mas said he was withholding some details of the new plan “to avoid giving more clues” to the central government, which will likely oppose the process.
The constitutional court issued an injunction against the original referendum plan on Sept. 29, while judges deliberate the central government’s request to declare the referendum illegal.
A key difference between the new vote plan and the original one would be the central role of volunteers, rather than Catalan government officials, in helping to administer the process, said Salvador Cardus, a sociologist and member of the National Transition Advisory Council, a group of intellectuals preparing a road map to independence for Catalonia’s government. After the injunction was issued, the Catalan government halted its campaign to promote the referendum for fear that Catalan civil servants could face sanctions for defying the court.