The Catalan regional government has formally suspended its campaign after Spain’s constitutional court called a temporary halt on the region’s attempt to hold an independence referendum in November.
On Monday, the court unanimously agreed to halt the referendum campaign only two days after it was announced by Catalan leader Artur Mas. The government made clear, however, that the suspension “does not constitute a ruling on the merits of either case.”
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was more strident calling the vote “anti-democratic” and asserting that his government “can’t allow the will of a few to deprive everyone else of their rights.”
The Catalan nationalist alliance CiU was equally critical of the government’s stance. The Secretary General of the CiU, Ramon Espadaler, called for a political dialogue on Monday rather than a legal challenge, claiming:
Once again, we are faced with this presentation of the Constitution as an impassable wall of the aspirations of the public, the Government and Parliament of Catalonia.
The court will allow both sides to present their arguments, but Mas faces an uphill battle.
The government is basing its case on the terms of the Spanish constitution, which is “based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation, the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards.
As interpreted by the Spanish government in its appeal any move that violates the indivisible unity of the Spanish state would require a national vote. The same argument was used successfully in a 2008 when the court prevented the Basque Country government from holding a similar vote.