Cat­alo­ni­ans Want Di­a­logue On In­de­pen­dence Vote


MADRID (Dis­patches) - Cat­alo­nia’s gover­nor and the mayor of its big­gest city Barcelona have ap­pealed to Spain’s pre­mier and king for di­a­logue to re­solve an in­creas­ingly bit­ter tus­sle over a planned vote on re­gional in­de­pen­dence, a let­ter showed on Fri­day.

Au­thor­i­ties in the wealthy north­east­ern re­gion have pledged to call Cata­lans to the polls on Oct. 1, in de­fi­ance of Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy, who has de­clared the ref­er­en­dum il­le­gal.

The ap­peal comes at the end of a week in which the state prose­cu­tor sum­moned may­ors for ques­tion­ing, and Cat­alo­nia re­belled against Madrid’s fis­cal rules. Gover­nor Car­les Puigde­mont and Mayor Ada Co­lau said in the let­ter ad­dressed to Ra­joy and also sent to King Felipe that they wanted sup­port from the Span­ish state for the ref­er­en­dum.

“We call for ... open and un­con­di­tional di­a­logue. A po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue, based on the le­git­i­macy we all have, to make pos­si­ble some­thing that in a democ­racy is never a prob­lem and even less a crime: lis­ten­ing to the voice of the peo­ple,” the of­fi­cials wrote in the let­ter seen by Reuters. Two new laws clear­ing the way for the vote have been sus­pended while judges con­sider whether hold­ing it would breach Spain’s con­sti­tu­tion, which states that the coun­try is in­di­vis­i­ble.

King Felipe was widely quoted prais­ing Spain’s democ­racy and so­cial har­mony at an awards cer­e­mony on Wed­nes­day, say­ing “the con­sti­tu­tion will pre­vail over any rup­ture in that”. The let­ter ac­cused the Span­ish state of “an un­prece­dented re­pres­sion of­fen­sive”.

Most of Cat­alo­nia’s 5.5 mil­lion vot­ers want to have a say on the re­gion’s re­la­tion­ship with Spain, but the in­de­pen­dence cause has lost sup­port in re­cent years and sur­veys now in­di­cate less than half the pop­u­la­tion would choose full self-rule.

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