Spain: Catalan leader says parliament rejection won’t halt referendum

Artur Mas surrounded by Cataln flags

Catalonia President Artur Mas said April 8 he would forge ahead with his region’s plans to hold a referendum on independence in Nov. 9 after Spain’s parliament overwhelmingly rejected the petition.

After a seven-hour debate in the national parliament in Madrid, and despite heavy support for the separatist movement in the wealthy northeastern region, 299 lawmakers voted against, 47 voted for and one abstained.

The regional parliament of Catalonia, which has its own language and a long history of fighting for greater autonomy from Spain, sent the initiative to the national legislature in January asking for permission to hold a referendum.

“They are afraid that the Catalan people vote. Some would like to present this as the end of the matter but, as President of Catalonia, I say to them that it is not the end,” Mas said in a live speech in Catalan immediately after votes were counted. “Catalan institutions will search through the legal frameworks to find a way to continue with this consultation.” Catalan lawmakers said the movement had already gained too much momentum to stop the referendum completely.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy repeated his argument that the vote would be illegal, since under Spain’s constitution referendums on sovereignty must be held nationally and not regionally.
The specter of a breakaway Catalonia, which accounts for a fifth of the Spanish economy and 16% of its population, has become a big headache for Rajoy, who is battling high unemployment and the scars of a deep recession.

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The situation is not the same as Scotland in the UK, where many Englishmen would happy to see poor, Labour-voting Scotland leave.

However, it remains my opinion that the real problem in Europe is mass immigration. There will be few native Catalonians compared to the surge of (mostly Muslim) immigrants if current demographic trends continue. The fertility rate for Spain is only 1.48 children per woman and that includes the whole population. That rate is low, even for Europe. See the CIA World Factbook rankings here.