Spain’s Constitutional Court has temporarily halted an independence referendum called by the rich northeastern region of Catalonia, a decision which the region’s leaders vowed to ignore despite warnings by the central government. The court’s unanimous decision to hear the government’s case automatically suspended the November 9 non-binding referendum from going forward until the court hears arguments and makes a decision, a process that could take months or years, a court spokeswoman said. She spoke on condition of anonymity because of court rules preventing her from being named. The court acted hours after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the referendum decree represents “a grave attack on the rights of all Spaniards.”
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the vote is “a grave attack on the rights of all Spaniards,” and a breach to the constitution, that “was based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish state”.
Buoyed by mass street demonstrations, regional leader Artur Mas has pushed ahead for a vote in defiance of Rajoy’s warnings.
“You cannot use the law to prevent people indefinitely from stating their opinion,” Mas said in a television interview on Sunday in anticipation of Monday’s appeal.