Skip to main content

Political parties announce date for vote on Catalonia independence

By Al Goodman, CNN
December 12, 2013 -- Updated 1714 GMT (0114 HKT)
Catalan regional president Artur Mas speaks during a press conference on December 12, 2013 in Barcelona.
Catalan regional president Artur Mas speaks during a press conference on December 12, 2013 in Barcelona.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Referendum is set for November 9, 2014, pro-independence parties say
  • "The vote will not be held," Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon responds
  • Madrid says nation's constitution doesn't allow regions to unilaterally break away
  • There have been mass demonstrations in favor of self-determination

Madrid (CNN) -- Pro-independence parties in Catalonia defied the Spanish government Thursday by announcing in Barcelona that they plan to hold a referendum in November on whether the wealthy northeast region should be independent.

Madrid staunchly opposes the referendum and Catalan independence, and a Spanish government official rejected the announcement.

"The vote will not be held," Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon told reporters Thursday in the hallways of Spain's parliament.

Even supporters admit that there is much to be done before the vote can take place on November 9, 2014.

"We expect to open negotiations with Madrid. The Spanish state can't be blind about it," said Joan Maria Pique, a top aide and spokesman for Catalan regional president Artur Mas, who had a prominent role Thursday when his Convergence and Union party announced the plan with three other parties.

They had previously said only that the vote would be sometime in late 2014. And they also announced the two-part referendum question:

Do you want Catalonia to become a state? And if the voter answers yes, then comes this: Do you want that state to be independent?

That's a different formula from the single question that Scottish voters are due to get on September 18: Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Pique said the two-part question in Catalonia was the result of negotiations among the four pro-independence parties, but he noted that Great Britain has agreed to allow the Scottish vote on self-determination, while Spain has not followed suit yet for Catalonia.

The Spanish government says that Catalonia, with 7.5 million people, already has broad home-rule powers, including its own parliament, police force and control over education and health.

And Madrid insists that the Spanish Constitution does not allow any of Spain's 17 regions to unilaterally break away, even one like Catalonia that has its own flag and language.

The four pro-independence Catalan parties hold a majority in the Catalan regional parliament. There have been mass demonstrations in favor of self-determination on the past two Catalan national days on September 11. This year, hundreds of thousands of people formed a human chain -- from northern Catalonia, at the French border, to its southern border with the Valencia region -- to drive home the point.

Last year on September 11, an estimated 1.5 million people demonstrated in Barcelona, the regional capital and Spain's second-largest city, for self-determination.

Various opinion polls show a very large majority of Catalans want the right of self-determination. But if independence makes it to the ballot, polls show the result could be tighter, with some predicting a victory in the 50% range.

READ: September 2013: Catalans to link up in human chain today in their call for secession from Spain

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2106 GMT (0506 HKT)
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1945 GMT (0345 HKT)
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
It's a very big challenge but NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan thinks it can be done.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 0039 GMT (0839 HKT)
CNN's Atika Shubert explains how the most recent ISIS video differs from the other previous hostage execution videos.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
A Syrian cleric condemns ISIS and its execution of U.S. hostage Peter Kassig.
November 16, 2014 -- Updated 1720 GMT (0120 HKT)
Volunteer fighters in eastern Ukraine dig down just 800 meters from the front line.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1729 GMT (0129 HKT)
TV anchor wears the same suit for a year. Female colleague wears new outfit daily. Who gets criticized?
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1204 GMT (2004 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT