Catalonian lawmakers adopts measure to make secession easier

July 27, 2017 12:40 pm

A view of the parliament in Spain’s region

Catalonian lawmakers have approved reforms that would make it easier for the wealthy region to secede from Spain following an upcoming independence referendum.
The reforms, approved by a 72-63 vote on Wednesday, will allow Catalonia to declare independence within 48 hours if voters choose to split from Spain in a referendum scheduled to be held on October 1.
The new decision makes it easier for any piece of legislation in Catalonia to be adopted quickly, with fewer checks and balances.
The government in Madrid is categorically opposed to the independence bid. It called the Wednesday Catalonian parliament vote “illegal,” reiterating previous remarks that the independence referendum threatened Spain’s unity.
Tensions further deepened between Barcelona and Madrid on Friday, when the Spanish government told Catalonian authorities that they would lose access to some public funds if they were found to be using state money to organize the referendum.
“Not one euro of Catalan money will go to an illegal referendum that is desired by a handful of people,” Spanish government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo said. Catalonian authorities will be obliged to provide weekly accounts to show that no money is being used to stage the independence vote, he added.
Leaders in Catalonia have pledged to go ahead with the referendum despite threats.
“The Spanish government is imposing excessive demands on the public services of Catalonia simply because of the opinions of the government of the Generalitat. We will not submit to this fear,” the regional Catalonian government said.
It has repeatedly attempted to gain outright independence from Spain but has failed due to the division among the 7.5 million residents of the region.

People wave flags and hold up placards during a demonstration dubbed “Referendum is Democracy,” in Barcelona, June 11, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Back in November 2014, a symbolic referendum on independence was held in Catalonia. The vote went ahead despite fierce opposition by the central Spanish government, which considered it illegal. More than 80 percent of the 2.3 million people who cast ballots backed independence for Catalonia, according to regional officials.
Many in the wealthy region, which provides almost a fifth of the Spanish economic output, wish for greater autonomy from Madrid, arguing that Spain’s recent economic downturn is making Catalans pay more taxes to the central government to subsidize poorer regions.
The highly-industrialized region has its own language and customs.
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