Independence move: Madrid toughens Catalonia stance

Barcelona: Spain’s top courts on Friday heaped fresh threats on Catalan separatists who have pushed on with their independence bid, passing a law outlining a transition to a possible independent republic.
After sparking Spain’s deepest political crisis in 40 years by voting this week to move ahead with a referendum, Catalonia’s separatist-controlled regional parliament upped the ante by passing a bill in the early hours which would take effect if they won the popular vote on October 1.
The separatists say the law would serve as a temporary “basic law” in the wealthy northeastern region of 7.5 million people in the event of a “yes” vote, until a new constitution was in place.
Spain’s Constitutional Court has since 2014 declared any bid for an independence referendum to be unconstitutional, and on Thursday night it moved again to suspend the bills passed by Catalan lawmakers to organise the vote.
The court was set later to suspend the law outlining a possible transition, too. But the separatists have ignored the actions of the judges — most of them named by the ruling conservatives —branding them illegitimate.
“It is worrying that the state is seeking to scare people and make threats, faced with a desire for a vote,” Lluis Corominas, Vice-President of the Catalan parliament, told national radio on Friday.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy vowed on Thursday to block the referendum, branding it an “intolerable act of disobedience”, and the Supreme Court warned senior Catalan officials to desist from promoting “any accord or action which permits the preparation and/or holding of a referendum”.
The warning went out to all members of the regional government, as well as mayors, the directors of regional public broadcasters, and Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero, a popular figure after winning plaudits for his handling of last month’s terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils.
The region’s 948 mayors now find themselves in a delicate position.
The court on Friday ordered them to respect its suspension of the referendum bid, “warning them of their potential liabilities, which include criminal liabilities”, just a day after regional authorities asked them to provide lists of possible polling stations. — AFP