Catalonia will heed vote decision
The regional government of Catalonia says it will heed a decision by Spain's top court blocking its plans to hold an independence referendum but vowed to continue efforts to stage a vote.
Regional government spokesman Frances Homs said the Catalan government would present arguments for the November 9 referendum and seek to have the suspension lifted.
The Constitutional Court agreed yesterday to study appeals challenging the legality of the referendum that were filed by the Spanish central government. The decision automatically suspended the vote and campaigning until the court makes a ruling, which could take months or even years.
Independence supporters have called for demonstrations outside town halls to protest against the suspension.
Polls suggest most Catalans favour holding a vote, but are roughly evenly split on independence.
The Madrid government contends that the vote approved on Saturday by Catalan regional leader Artur Mas would be unconstitutional.
The court acted hours after prime minister Mariano Rajoy said the referendum decree represented "a grave attack on the rights of all Spaniards".
Under Spain's 1979 constitution, Mr Rajoy said, all Spaniards must vote on issues of sovereignty - not just the five million Catalans who would be eligible to vote under Mr Mas's planned vote.
Mr Rajoy said after holding an emergency cabinet meeting that Spain's constitution "was based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish state" and that it could be amended in the future but the government must defend it.
Unhappy at Spain's refusal to give it more autonomy and fiscal powers, Catalan politicians have been pushing for the referendum for months. The effort is Europe's latest secession attempt following Scotland's recent independence vote that resulted in a No vote and kept it part of the UK.