Catalonia: Spanish courts move to block declaration of independence

The Constitutional Court of Spain has ruled that the Catalan Parliament may not convene on Monday for a session where a unilateral declaration of independence could be made.

The court upheld a challenge from the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), one of Spain’s two major political parties and an intransigent opponent to independence for Catalonia.

It agreed that allowing the vote to go ahead would violate the rights of the party’s MPs, warned that any session held in defiance of the rulling would be “null” and parliament leaders could face prosecution.

It is the latest move in an ongoing stand-off between rival governments in Madrid and Barcelona following an independence poll on Sunday which had been banned by the Spanish courts.

The Catalan Government says 2.3 million ballot papers have been counted of which 2 million were for independence, but as many as 700,000 were confiscated, bringing the turnout to just 43 per cent.

The suspended Law on the Referendum on Self-determination states: “If the counting of votes validly made gives a result of more affirmative than negative votes, it shall mean the independence of Catalonia.

“To this end, the Parliament of Catalonia shall, within two days of the proclamation of the results by the Electoral Commission, hold an ordinary session to issue the formal declaration of independence of Catalonia, specify its effects and commence the constituent process.”

Meanwhile, bar associations across the country have lent their support to an effort by civic society to mediate between the two governments.

On Wednesday, the Independent Commission for Mediation, Dialogue and Conciliation was launched at the offices of the Bar Association of Barcelona, with support from the Catalan Advocacy Council, which represents all bar associations in Catalonia.

The Commission is supported by the two largest trade unions, the University of Barcelona and the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce among others and seeks to find “an agreed outcome”.

As a starting point for mediation, it has proposed that the Spanish government should withdraw its police and army deployment from Catalonia and the Catalan government should renounce “any unilateral solution that does not have broad democratic consensus”.