Catalan govt asks top Spanish court to allow independence vote

Chong Zi Liang/SPH: Barcelona Football Club supporters holding up placards that say "we are free" and waving Catalan flags during Barcelona's clash with Celta Vigo at the Camp Nou on Nov 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Chong Zi Liang/SPH: Barcelona Football Club supporters holding up placards that say "we are free" and waving Catalan flags during Barcelona's clash with Celta Vigo at the Camp Nou on Nov 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

BARCELONA (AFP) - The Catalan government said on Monday, Nov 3, 2014, it has petitioned Spain's constitutional court to allow it to go ahead with this weekend's symbolic vote on independence which has been opposed by Madrid.

"We have presented this petition to prevent the constitutional court from suspending" Sunday's referendum, the spokesman for the Catalan government Francesc Homs told a news conference.

Spain's central government on Friday launched a fresh judicial challenge by petitioning the constitutional court to block the vote.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the Catalan plan for the symbolic referendum, with volunteer poll watchers and same-day voter registration, represents a "legal fraud" and "a perversion" of democracy.

The head of the Catalan regional government Artur Mas had originally planned an official non-binding referendum for Nov 9.

He later downgraded it to a symbolic vote organised largely by volunteers after the Spanish government launched a lawsuit against the vote.

The court will meet on Tuesday to consider Madrid's request for an injunction against the symbolic referendum, a court spokesman said.

It is widely expected to grant the government's request for an injunction, as it did in September when it blocked the plan for a non-binding official referendum.

Proud of their distinct language and culture, Catalonia's 7.5 million inhabitants have been demanding greater autonomy over recent years. The region accounts for nearly a fifth of Spain's economic output.