What you need to know about the Catalan referendum

  • What you need to know about the Catalan referendum

What you need to know about the Catalan referendum

Spain's Constitutional Court ruled that the referendum violated the country's constitution because it "does not recognize the right to self-determination and establishes that sovereignty resides with Spanish citizens collectively", according to the Washington Post.

Such a move would severely test the government of Prime Minister Rajoy.

Puigdemont has yet to declare full independence from Spain. Rajoy's government is meanwhile threatening that it will criminally prosecute senior Catalan officials or use a constitutional provision to suspend the region's autonomy.

Referring directly to Catalonia's regional leader, Carlos Puigdemont, who backs the separatist movement, the statement pointed to the serious damage already inflicted by the independence movement and demanded that separatist leaders meet with all parties in the Catalan regional government.

The Catalans seem more and more determined to separate, and Madrid is increasingly reluctant to do so.

The European Parliament is set to debate the crisis in Catalonia on Wednesday amid mounting criticism of a deafening silence in Brussels.

Surprisingly, Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel spoke out on Monday, explicitly condemning violence, but implicitly pointing to the Spanish authorities: as the head of a coalition government with Flemish separatists, he faces his own independence threats.

There is one area that could push Madrid into negotiations, however.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that participants in the referendum opted overwhelmingly for independence, but turnout was only about 43 percent as Catalans who favor remaining part of Spain mainly boycotted the ballot.

Catalan leaders have said they will declare independence for the northeastern region after a weekend referendum that Spain declared illegal and tried to stop by force.

Spain's national government in Madrid has ardently resisted separation.

The country's constitutional court said such a declaration would be "a breach of the constitution".

Spain's ruling Popular Party and powerful sections of the ruling establishment in Europe have taken recourse to arguments based on the principle of sovereignty and the inviolability of the Spanish constitution to defend the Spanish government's crackdown on the referendum. More than 5 million Catalonians were eligible to vote, but the Spanish government ordered police to raid polling places and seize voting supplies. Tension and animosity are rising between the police and the protesters.

Nearly 900 people were injured after security forces closed polling stations on Sunday and dispersed crowds of peaceful supporters of independence for the region with baton charges and rubber bullets.