Spain protests Catalonia independence referendum call

The government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has appealed to the nation's highest court to stop Catalonia's referendum in early November.

Andrea Comas/REUTERS
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy answers a question during a news conference at Moncloa palace in Madrid September 29, 2014. The Spanish government on Monday formally asked the constitutional court to declare illegal Catalonia's planned vote on independence from Spain, Rajoy said in a televised statement.

Spain's government has filed appeals before the country's top court to try to halt the powerful northeastern region of Catalonia from staging an independence referendum, the prime minister said Monday.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the Nov. 9 referendum called by Catalan regional leader Artur Mas represented "a grave attack on the rights of all Spaniards," who under the 1979 Spanish Constitution were the only ones who could vote on issues of sovereignty.

He stressed that the Constitution "was based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish state" and that while the charter could be amended in the future, right now the government's priority was to defend it. He spoke after a special Cabinet meeting called to discuss the crisis.

He said the government is challenging both the referendum call and a law passed by the Catalan government that allowed Mas to call the vote.

If the Constitutional Court takes on the appeals, as is widely expected to happen this week, both the law and the referendum will automatically be suspended while the court deliberates, a process that could take months or years.

Unhappy at Spain's refusal to give it more powers, Catalonia has vowed for months to hold the referendum. The move is the latest secession push in Europe following Scotland's recent vote to remain in Britain.

Polls indicate most Catalans favor holding the referendum but are roughly evenly split on independence.

Mas insists the vote will take place but at the same time says he won't do anything illegal.

Catalonia, whose capital is Barcelona, has prepared ballot boxes and begun publicity campaigns to inform the region's 5 million voters about the referendum.

Rajoy said it was not too late for the Catalan government to change direction, adding that he remained opened to talks.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.