Spain and the Catalan referendum (The Guardian)
A group of MPs and peers writes to denounce Spain’s attempts to block the referendum in Catalonia. And more than a hundred academics put their names to a letter condemning Madrid’s crackdown
We, the undersigned peers and MPs, have a range of opinions on whether Catalonia should be independent or remain part of Spain (Report, 21 September). However, we all agree that the issue should be decided by the people of Catalonia in a democratic and peaceful way. We are extremely disturbed by the measures taken by the Spanish government to prevent the referendum, agreed to by the Catalan parliament, taking place on 1 October.
These measures include: taking to court 700 Catalan mayors for allowing preparations for the vote to go ahead, seizing campaign material and ballot papers, threatening to cut off power to polling stations, arresting and charging a newspaper editor accused of aiding the preparations for the referendum and banning a public meeting called in Madrid to discuss the issue. The Spanish government has now sent in the Civil Guard to occupy government buildings, with ministers and officials arrested, and has taken control of the Catalan government’s finances.
Both King Felipe and the prime minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, have publicly called on Catalans not to vote.
We believe, however, that the democratic way to proceed would be for opponents of Catalan independence to campaign for their position in the referendum. That was the stance of the UK government in respect of the Scottish independence referendum in September 2014.
This referendum was democratically agreed to by the Catalan parliament. To attempt to impede or stop it through sanctions, criminal charges and direct action by the Spanish state is an affront to democracy and threatens to embitter relations between Catalonia and the rest of Spain. We call on the Spanish government to allow this democratic test of Catalan opinion to go ahead without further hindrance.
Hywel Williams Plaid Cymru, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Catalonia
Tony Berkeley Labour, House of Lords
Deidre Brock SNP
Douglas Chapman SNP
As academics working in the fields of law, human rights, politics, sociology, history and related subjects in the UK and Ireland, we write to draw attention to the political repression that is being conducted by the Spanish government and national police to prevent the Catalan government holding a referendum on independence.
We support the demands by constitutional lawyers in Catalonia and Spain to cease all action disrupting the referendum there. Section 155 of the Spanish constitution states that the government can only compel an autonomous community (state or regional government) to carry out legal actions with the prior consent of a majority of the Spanish senate. No such vote has taken place.
We are concerned that the level of political repression in Catalonia is of a severity and arbitrary character not experienced since the Franco dictatorship. We demand that Spain immediately ceases the political repression in Catalonia and enables the people of Catalonia to be allowed to freely express their political views.
Dr Vickie Cooper Open University
Dr Robert Knox University of Liverpool
Dr Michelle Farrell University of Liverpool