MADRID (AA) - Spain’s Constitutional Court suspended the Catalan government’s plan to hold a referendum in autumn of 2017 on Wednesday, saying a vote for independence would violate Spain’s constitution.
In October, Catalonia’s parliament passed resolutions related to holding a referendum next year. Wednesday’s ruling comes as no surprise, however, as previous attempts to vote on independence for the wealthy north-eastern region had already been struck down by Spain’s legal system.
In its ruling, the Constitutional Court said that important separatist politicians, including the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, will be personally advised that it is their duty to “prevent or paralyze” any initiative that involves ignoring the suspension of the resolutions and of the “eventual liabilities, including criminal, that they may incur.”
Several high profile Catalan separatist politicians, including the former Catalan leader, Artur Mas, are currently facing charges for holding the non-binding referendum on Catalan independence that took place in 2014.
In lieu of a referendum, Catalan separatists promoted the November 2015 regional elections as a vote on independence. While they did not earn 50 percent of the popular vote, they were close, and gained a majority in the Catalan Parliament.
Since gaining the majority, the Catalan government has vowed to hold a binding referendum by September of 2017, whether Spain likes it or not.
Prior to Wednesday, the Constitutional Court had already struck down other legislation passed by the separatist Catalan government related to breaking away from Spain, including a motion that specifically called Spain’s Constitutional Court “delegitimized.”