Catalonia "Cannot Hold Independence Vote," Says Spanish Court
Catalonia does not have the right to call a referendum on independence, Spain's Constitutional Court said.
The Spanish autonomous region has declared it would hold a referendum on November 9 regardless of what the government in Madrid thinks of the vote.
Catalonia's President Artur Mas has also pledged to keep it into the EU, as well as to maintain euro as a currency, thus making a future Catalan country the eight-largest Eurozone economy.
European institutions have expressed doubt over such prospects, asserting Catalonia would have to re-apply and its chances to be accepted by all member states are extremely slim.
Magistrates made clear that a vote on breaking away from Spain would require changes in the federal constitution, Spanish agency Europa Press has reported.
Unanimously, the court approved its stance that "under the Constitution, an autonomous community [i.e. Spain's basic administrative unit] cannot unilaterally call a referendum on self-determination to decide about its integration into Spain."
The statement further reads that "the constitution attributes national sovereignty exclusively to the Spanish people". This would suggest under current legislation, a referendum on Catalonia's independence could virtually be held only at a federal level, an idea which has never been an option.
The decision also means that Spain could not recognize Catalonia's people as a "sovereign political subject". El Mundo quotes magistrates as saying that the referendum would lack "democratic legitimacy".
November 9's upcoming referendum was not explicitly mentioned, but judges left no doubt that its results could not be taken into consideration.
Different polls have shown that about half of Catalan people approve the idea of secession, with some surveys putting the number at more than 50%.