Catalan leader set to formally call independence vote
Catalonia's president said he will on Saturday formally call a vote for November 9 on whether the region should be independent from Spain, defying Madrid's vows to block the move.
"On Saturday I will sign the decree to call the vote, just as I promised," Catalonia's president Artur Mas was quoted as saying in a statement released by his regional government.
Spain's conservative central government has branded the planned vote illegal and has vowed to defend the unity of Spain.
It said it will block the ballot planned by Mas for November 9 by appealing to the Constitutional Court as soon as he signs the decree.
Mas has vowed to let Catalans vote on autonomy but has also promised to respect Spanish law.
He has hinted that he could call early regional elections in Catalonia which would act as a plebiscite on the issue, if the central government blocks the vote.
But the Catalan government's spokesman Francesc Homs on Tuesday sais there would be no early elections "on November 9 or after".
Catalonia's regional parliament on September 19 approved a law which its leaders say authorises them to hold a non-binding "consultation" on independence.
That came just a day after Scottish voters rejected independence in a referendum authorised by Britain.
Proud of their distinct Catalan language and culture, many of Catalonia's 7.5 million inhabitants feel short-changed by the national government in Madrid, which redistributes their taxes.
Catalonia formally adopted the status of a "nation" in 2006 but Spain's Constitutional Court later overruled that claim.
© 2014 AFP