As expected, the Spanish prime minister announced on Monday that his Cabinet has approved an appeal that will be sent to the Constitutional Court against the planned referendum on independence in Catalonia, which was put into motion on Saturday when Catalan regional premier Artur Mas signed a decree calling the November 9 vote.
“The consultation is not compatible with the Constitution, due to its aim and its method,” Prime Minsiter Mariano Rajoy said on Monday, adding that the government was “obliged” to file an appeal “in defense of the Constitution and of all Spaniards, including Catalans. We are also defending them and their rights with this appeal.”
At the end of his statement, Rajoy added that there was still time to “change course, and seek fruitful dialogue, always within a framework of scrupulous respect to the law and a serious and responsible democracy, as ours is. All dialogue should be within the law and none outside it,” he concluded.
The most important thing is to defend the Constitution, then we can talk about reforms” PM Mariano Rajoy
While he was unwilling to go into detail about the arguments contained within the appeal, the prime minister stated that the vote on independence from Spain was “openly contrary to our Constitution because national sovereignty resides with the Spanish people, as a whole, and a part of it cannot take decisions that affect us all.
“There is nothing, or no one, who can deny Spaniards the right to decide what their country is,” he later told journalists. “The most important thing to do is defend the Constitution, then we can talk about reforming it.”
Much of Rajoy’s statement focused on the fact that the government has always left the door open to dialogue with political leaders in Catalonia. “The Generalitat [Catalan government] has for a long time now been applying policies of foregone conclusions,” he said. “My position has always been open, clear and firm. I have been willing to negotiate, but there has never been a real possibility to do so. Decisions have been taken from the Generalitat on the basis that the government will accept them.”
Rajoy made these statements at 12.30pm, after leaving the specially convened Cabinet meeting, which started at 10am. Shortly after 1pm, the Solicitor General’s office presented the appeals against the referendum vote at the Constitutional Court, which is likely to have decided by 7pm whether or not to accept the appeal, thus automatically suspending the legislation covering the referendum, and the vote itself.