Dec 15, 2013 12:02 AM EST

Catalonia Wants An Independence Referendum, But Spanish Government Says No


Separatist parties from Catalonia, one of Spain's wealthy regions, set November 9, 2014 as the date of its proposed independence referendum last Thursday, December 12, but the Spanish government said its constitution would not allow it according to MSN News.

The call for independence has been growing louder while the Spanish government has not been able to bounce back from economic recession. Catalonia has been hit by a series of cuts in public spending. Catalonia's economic wealth constitutes a fifth of Spain's overall economic output.

Artur Mas, head of Catalan's regional government, argued that there was a way for the referendum to be held legally, but Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, Spanish Justice Minister, said the proposed referendum is unconstitutional.

Catalonia's call for independence has been a source of headache to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

"As prime minister I have sworn to uphold the constitution and the law and, because of this, I guarantee that this referendum will not happen," Rajoy said during a joint news conference with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy. "Any discussion or debate on this is out of the question."

The Catalans have very strong historic and cultural roots. It has its own language aside form Spanish. During the reign of the dictator Francisco Franco, the Catalans were subjugated and were prevented to speak their own language.

Now, Catalonia already has a high degree of autonomy, but it wants more say over taxes and public spending.

Rafa Rubio, a political analyst who teaches constitutional law at the Complutense University in Madrid, believes that the proposed referendum would be tricky to deal with.

"I think they will call a referendum and, whatever its result, the Catalans end up winning ... because, although the result is not binding, it is a very powerful weapon with which to exert pressure," Rubio said in an interview. "Rajoy is worried, but his character is to leave things for time to deal with, and this is an issue which over time continues to grow and worsen."

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