MADRID – The pro-independence government of Catalonia said Friday it is examining possible legal arguments to persuade Spain’s constitutional Court to lift its provisional suspension of a planned secession referendum in the region Nov. 9.
The regional government of Artur Mas met with leaders of other regional political parties that back the referendum to see how they could make a legal case for the ballot, spokesman Francesc Homs said. He said the talks could continue into the weekend.
Most lawmakers in the Catalan parliament in Barcelona favour staging a vote, saying it is their democratic right.
But the central government and most members of Spain’s national Parliament in Madrid overwhelmingly oppose it, arguing it violates the Spanish Constitution’s stipulation that only the national government can call referendums on sovereignty and that all Spaniards are entitled to vote in such a ballot.
The constitutional Court decided unanimously last month to hear the government’s case against the referendum. That decision automatically suspended the vote from going forward until the court hears arguments and makes a decision — a process that could take months or years.
Pro-independence sentiment has surged in Catalonia in recent years following Spain’s refusal to give the region more autonomy and fiscal powers.
The push is Europe’s latest secession attempt following a Scottish independence poll last month on separating from Britain which resulted in a No vote.
On Thursday, in apparent defiance of the court suspension, Catalan president Mas signed a decree designating an electoral committee that would preside over the referendum.
Polls suggest most Catalans favour holding the vote, but are roughly evenly split on independence. The northeastern region, with some 7.5 million inhabitants, is Spain’s richest.