CATALAN leader Artur Mas has vowed to go ahead with Sunday’s independence vote, despite a ban from the Spanish government.
Spain has reportedly sent armoured vehicles to Catalan, to deal with any potential backlash from the vote.
Going against the latest in a string of legal challenges from Madrid, on November 9, will set up a constitutional conflict unprecedented in post-Franco Spain.
Mas promised to defend the Catalan ‘right to decide’, saying: “We have decided to carry on with this participative process… All peoples have the right to decide their future.
“We are defending fundamental rights protected by basic laws: freedom of conscience, freedom of participation and freedom of expression.”
The vote, however, will not be a ‘referendum’. It will be organised by volunteers without an official electorial roll.
But by going ahead Mas will be putting himself in a very precarious position.
“If they go ahead, it will be civil disobedience – not for the people who vote but for the public officials involved. That is a penal offence,” said Yolanda Gomez, a constitutional law expert at Spain’s distance-learning university UNED.