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BID FOR INDEPENDENCE

State Council votes unanimously to appeal alternative Catalan poll

Government advisory body has found the November 9 consultation to be unconstitutional

Anabel Díez
Catalan premier Artur Mas in parliament on Wednesday.
Catalan premier Artur Mas in parliament on Wednesday.Alberto Estévez (EFE)

The Permanent Commission of the government's State Council advisory body on Thursday unanimously approved a ruling in favor of appealing the alternative vote on Catalan independence planned in the region for November 9. Sources from the institution confirmed to news agency EFE the approval of the ruling, which had been requested by the central Madrid government with a view to finalizing an appeal against the poll at Friday's Cabinet meeting.

The alternative vote is being organized by the Catalan authorities after legislation passed by the regional government convening a non-binding referendum on a breakaway from Spain was appealed at the Constitutional Court by Madrid. As soon as that appeal was accepted by the court, all campaigning and the vote itself had to be suspended.

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In response, the pro-independence premier of Catalonia, Artur Mas, authorized an unofficial vote to take place, also on November 9. There will be ballot boxes, but no official census, and voters will be offered the chance to register their names if they wish to do so.

The Popular Party government in Madrid is fiercely opposed to such a vote taking place, and has repeatedly voiced its commitment to maintaining the unity of Spain.

The Permanent Commission has examined the plan for the November 9 vote, as it did for the previously planned poll, and decided that the characteristics of both referendums are the same. Its ruling will be included in the documents that will be studied by the Cabinet on Friday, and will culminate in an appeal at the Constitutional Court to stop the process.

The main argument used by Madrid is that only the central government has powers to call a referendum on issues that affect all of Spain, whereas regions are able to organize votes on local matters.

Once the appeal is given the go-ahead by the Cabinet on Friday, the Solicitor General's office will prepare the text. However, legal sources believe that the Constitutional Court will not convene until Tuesday, which is just five days before the planned vote.

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