Catalonia Begins Independence Campaign as Spanish Government Threatens Crackdown

Polls show a minority of Catalans want self-rule although a majority want the chance to vote on the issue

On September 6, Catalonia's parliament voted in favor of a law on the transition to independence that regulates the region's exit from Spain, the parliamentary speaker said.

Montoro said Spain's central government will take over the payments of essential services and public workers' salaries in the wealthy northeastern region which has significant powers over matters such as education and healthcare.

The referendum would pose the question "Do you want Catalonia to be an independent republic?" to all Spanish citizens living in Catalonia.

Catalan separatists are beginning the independence campaign referendum on Thursday, an act which has been declared illegal by the Spanish government in Madrid.

Also on Friday, the government passed measures to gain more control over how the regional administration spends its money in a bid to stop it from using state cash to pay for the ballot.

He said the arrangement implied "political control that is not related to the objectives of budget stability or to the purposes of state legislation in this matter".

The region, with a population of 7.5 million, is regarded by Spain as an autonomous community and its people a nationality, in recognition of the area's language and cultural distinctions.

Catalonia, an industrial region with a strong export sector and a thriving tourist destination, produces about a fifth of the country's total economic output but complains it receives a lot less back. She also warned that facilitating the vote could be considered illegal.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont told broadcaster TV3 on Thursday the national government in Madrid has created

Government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo on Friday also said that the Spanish government will not rule out taking "exceptional measures" on Catalonia ahead of the referendum.

"Right now, we have no idea where they are", he said.

The state prosecutor has called for the mayors to be arrested if they fail to comply with the summons.

The Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has told Catalan's not to go to the polling station. A political dialogue, based on the legitimacy we all have, to make possible something that in a democracy is never a problem and even less a crime: "listening to the voice of the people", the officials wrote in the letter.

"We have always said that we would respect the rulings of the Spanish Constitutional Court and the Spanish parliament, said Juncker: "If there were to be a yes vote for Catalan independence we would respect that choice".

Catalonia's vice president Oriol Junqueras, who is in charge of budget affairs, sent a letter to Spain's central government saying he would not provide a weekly account of his government's spending.

However, even if that was to happen, "Catalonia will not become an European Union member state on the day after such a vote".




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