Published: Fri, June 09, 2017
USA | By Kelli Rowe

Spanish Catalonia announces October 1 independence vote

Spanish Catalonia announces October 1 independence vote

"There won't be a referendum, even Puigdemont knows it", said Albert Rivera, the leader of Ciudadanos, a Spain-wide party that was originally created in Catalonia to counter nationalist politicians.

Catalonia's regional President Carles Puigdemont poses next to a pro-independence supporter with a Catalan Estelada flag.

Catalonia will hold a referendum on splitting from Spain on 1 October, the head of the region said on Friday, setting the stage for a fierce legal and political clash with Spain over the coming months.

(AP Photo/Manu Fernandez). President of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont attends a meeting at the Generalitat Palace in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, June 9, 2017.

President of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont, center, arrives for a meeting at the Generalitat Palace in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, June 9, 2017.

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Puigdemont's announcement came after multiple failed attempts to agree on a referendum date with the Madrid government.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's cabinet has repeatedly vowed to prevent the ballot by all means necessary.

He was later put on trial and banned from holding office for two years.

She said: "I do hope from the bottom of my heart that the referendum is held and that the answer is yes".

In a speech in Madrid last month, Puigdemont said his government had a "democratically inviolable" commitment to the referendum and accused Rajoy, of failing to do anything "serious, honest or real" to resolve the issue.

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However, turnout was low and the result was non-binding.

Catalonia, a wealthy, 7.5-million-strong region with its own language and customs, has long demanded greater autonomy.

Read: How Will Catalonia's Secession From Spain Weaken Economic Future For Barcelona?

Polls consistently show that a large majority of Catalans are in favor of voting to change the current relationship between Catalonia and Spain, although the number of those who back independence among them have declined recently.

Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, a prominent figure in Spain's new anti-establishment left movement, has rejected supporting a vote that is not agreed with central authorities. "If we enter a dynamic of radicalization and going against the law, that's a scenario that could certainly have dire consequences", he said.

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