The Spanish Council of State has ruled that a new planned symbolic referendum on independence in the Catalonia region is illegal, saying it backs a veto of the vote.
A spokeswoman for the council said Thursday that the consultative body decided that the government should ask the Constitutional Court to declare the November 9 referendum as unlawful.
The council made the ruling after receiving a request by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to urgently give its opinion on the upcoming vote.
Rajoy announced after the council’s decision that Madrid would take a final decision on how it will respond to the regional Catalan government plans during a weekly cabinet meeting.
The prime minister argues that Catalonia’s independence bid does not respect democratic conditions.
If the symbolic referendum were to be held, a “Yes” for independence referendum would not automatically lead to the secession of the region. The vote would only give the Catalan president the mandate to negotiate independence with the Spanish administration.
The wealthy northeastern region of Spain has a population of 7.6 million people, accounting for nearly one-fifth of the country’s economy, and has been seeking independence for years.
Polls indicate that around half of Catalans want more independence from Spain and a vast majority of them want a referendum to determine the region’s future.
Many Catalans believe their economy would be more prosperous on its own, complaining that a high portion of their taxes goes to the central government in Madrid.
The region is currently paying Madrid around 16 billion euros a year more in taxes than it gets back from the central government.
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