The regional premier of Catalonia, Artur Mas, is planning to sign a decree on Saturday morning calling a referendum on independence for the northeastern region for November 9, official party sources have revealed. The Catalan government paved the way for such a move last Friday, when it passed a law giving Mas the powers to schedule the vote. The central government, however, is fiercely opposed to letting such a plebiscite go ahead.
Mas, of the Catalan nationalist alliance CiU, wants the signing to be an act of unity among all of the parties who back the referendum, and as such is calling on all political leaders to be in attendance at the regional government headquarters, in the Palau de la Generalitat, when he puts pen to paper.
Mas is calling on all political leaders to be in attendance at the regional government headquarters
The deputy prime minister of Spain’s national government, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, said on Thursday that the executive will respond with “agility and rapidity” when the signing takes place, but would not confirm whether the emergency Cabinet meeting that is planned – at which an appeal in the courts against the referendum will be approved – would take place on Sunday or Monday. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is due to return to Spain from his official trip to China on Saturday.
In anticipation of the move, Santamaría has held a long meeting in Congress with Catalan politicians, during which she called on Mas not to sign the decree. After the meeting, she made it clear that the “machinery of the state, i.e. the Constitution and the law,” would respond should he go ahead.
Once the Cabinet approves the appeal, it will have to wait until Monday before it can be presented to the Constitutional Court, which will then order the automatic suspension of the decree. Assuming the signing does take place on Saturday, this will give the Catalan government at least one or two days to begin a campaign on the referendum, before it is suspended by the court.
Everything is in place for Mas to sign the document, and the regional government does not want the moment to go by unnoticed. As such, the communication and protocol departments have been working overtime to convert areas of the government building into a genuine TV set, in preparation for a live broadcast.