“The referendum will not take place,” says Spanish government
Barcelona (ACN).- The Spanish government says a Catalan independence referendum is illegal because it is unconstitutional, and that it will file charges if any actions are undertaken to organize it. The spokesperson for the Spanish executive, Iñigo Méndez Vigo, confirmed this position on Friday to the press in reaction to the announcement that the vote will be held on October 1. “I don't have a crystal ball but I know what will not happen: no referendum will be held that is not permitted in the Constitution," he stated. He also criticized the announcement by the Catalan government as "an act" to hide the failure of the pro-independence forces. Other political and social leaders immediately reacted to the announcement. The president of Andalusia, Socialist Susana Díaz, called the vote a “fraud”, while the leader of the party’s Catalan branch, Miquel Iceta, was convinced that the referendum will not take place. On the other hand, Catalan activist groups such as Òmnium Cultural and the Association of the Catalan Municipalities for Independence (AMI) confirmed their support for the referendum, trusting in the “strength of the people” and “assuming all the consequences, if necessary”.
The reactions came swiftly in response to the Catalan government's announcement of October 1 as the date for the independence referendum and the question that the citizens of Catalonia will be asked: “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent country in the form of a republic?”
The Spanish and Catalan socialist parties aligned with the position of the Spanish government, supporting the argument that the referendum will not take place, and that conducting this vote would be outside the Spanish legal framework. Moreover, the Catalan socialist Miquel Iceta said that there isn't a majority in Catalonia for this kind of referendum and that “no project has been presented in the Catalan chamber," to give legal support to the referendum.
As the spokesperson for the Spanish executive, Iñigo Méndez Vigo, sustained, the central government will offer a “proportionate” response to the events taking place in Catalonia, without specifying which instruments they are planning on using in the event that the Government maintains its call for the referendum and attempts to carry it out. Méndez Vigo also pointed out that with the announcement of the referendum question and date the Catalan government’s strategy was becoming more and more one sided and radical. The Spanish executive spokesperson further reminded the Catalan government and all of the Catalan institutions that it was their responsibility to fulfill the law, protect the rights of all of the citizens of Catalonia, and to protect the neutrality of Catalonia's public servants. When asked by journalists about the 9-N vote in 2014, which was also not supposed to take place and in which 2.3 million people voted, Méndez Vigo insisted that “no unconstitutional referendum will be celebrated”.
On the other hand, there have also been positive reactions to the announcement. Jordi Cuitxart, the president of the cultural organization Òmnium Cultural, called for “serenity, courage, and unity” from the citizens of Catalonia in order to safeguard the referendum. According to Cuixart, the association will not spare any efforts to make sure the result of the referendum will be legally binding.
The Association of the Catalan Municipalities for Independence has also announced its commitment to the referendum. Its president, Neus Lloveras, pointed out that they will defend the will of the majority of the Catalan people who want to decide their political future through a democratic vote. She also pointed out the difficulties the local administrations in Catalonia are facing with almost 400 court cases against members of different Catalan town councils for disobedience, among other alleged crimes, and which are designed to silence the voice of the people.
The business association of Catalan entrepreneurs in favor of Catalonia remaining part of Spain, in turn, has asked the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, to call regional elections, because according to them, this is the only kind of vote he is authorized to call.
The Public Prosecutor's Office and the Constitutional Court have announced they will not act at this moment. Sources from the General Public Prosecutor's Office said that for the time being they do not plan on reacting to the announcement of the date and the question of the referendum, even though they do not discard doing so at any stage they find opportune.