Catalans prepare vote for independence from Spain

Catalonia is organizing the logistics for a referendum on independence from Spain it plans to hold by the end of September, even if it goes against the wishes of the national government, the Catalan government’s foreign policy chief said.

“We are now preparing the referendum because … either in an agreed way or not, we need to be ready,” Raul Romeva said on Thursday at the Catalan regional government’s representative office in London.

The wealthy northeastern region, which has its own language and culture, is home to a strong separatist movement, which has been intensified by high unemployment and austerity cuts in Spain. But attempts to hold a Scottish-style referendum on independence have been blocked in the courts by Madrid.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s centre-right government has said any referendum on secession is illegal and against the constitution, a stance supported by the judiciary.

The offer we have put on the table to the Spanish government is we can agree how and when we can hold the referendum.”

Catalan pro-independence campaigners held a symbolic vote two years ago in which nearly two million people expressed a desire to secede, although turnout was relatively low.

Senior politicians involved in the vote, which was staffed by volunteers, have faced sanctions or trial for pursuing measures deemed illegal by the Constitutional Court.

The latest opinion poll, carried out by the regional government, showed 45.3 percent in favor of secession and 46.8 percent against.

Romeva said: “If finally this negotiation (with the Spanish government) is getting nothing and there is no agreement we are committed and we will go ahead with organizing and holding a referendum and this will be before September 2017.”

“The offer we have put on the table to the Spanish government is we can agree how and when we can hold the referendum.”

Read more: Reuters.

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