Spain's Constitutional Court today suspended the alternative, non-binding independence vote that the Government of Catalonia was planning to hold on November 9th. The Court accepted a legal challenge by the Spanish government, and this implies the automatic suspension of all actions leading to the November 9th vote.
Catalan President Artur Mas signed on September 27th a decree calling a non-binding independence vote. But the decree was challenged by the Spanish government, and Spain's Constitutional Court suspended the vote shortly after on the grounds that the vote was unconstitutional. On October 14th Mas announced the vote would held anyway, but in an alternative way in order to avoid the veto.
The Spanish government now argues that the alternative vote is simply a way to evade the suspension of the first vote.
But the Catalan government says that the alternative vote was possible on the grounds that it was a "citizen participation" process, not a legally binding referendum. Catalan government Spokesman Francesc Homs said today that "everything is ready" for the "participation process" -i.e. for the alternative vote- and that the vote will be held anyway
Homs further announced that the Catalan government will bring a lawsuit against the Spanish government before Spain's Supreme Court on the grounds that it is violating "the right to participate, freedom of speech and ideological freedom" of citizens.
"Plebiscite election" possible way out of crisis
Also on October 14th Mas said that, no matter if the Nov 9 vote could be held or not, he could be calling an early election (a "plebiscite election", as it is referred to in Catalonia) to the Catalan Parliament in order to turn it into a de facto referendum on independence. Mas argued that pro-independence parties should then join into "a single list with a single manifesto." If that list "obtains an absolute majority, then the referendum is won. This is the final tool for a definitive vote," the Catalan President said.
Several pro-independence parties, including social democratic Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and democratic socialist Popular Unity Candidature (CUP) say the "plebiscite election" should indeed be held. But they do not agree with the idea of a joint list. ERC and CUP rather prefer to run under separate lists with a common commitment in their manifestos to declare independence if the pro-secession parties hold a majority of votes and MPs.
President Mas's Convergence and Union (CiU) now holds 50 MPs in the Catalan Parliament. ERC has 21 while CUP has 3. The absolute majority stands at 68 MPs. Recent opinion polls predict CiU, ERC and CUP could get 75 to 80 MPs in the event of an early election.