İrem Uzun –TDO- On Thursday, Spain's constitutional court suspended the call for a referendum on Catalonia's independence after agreeing to review an appeal by central authorities in Madrid. Despite the decision, Catalan leaders say the referendum will be held on 1 October, as it was planned. The Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy called the referendum law as an “intolerable act of disobedience”.
Catalonia, where is centered in Barcelona, is one of Spain's richest regions, both culturally and industrially. It also boasts its own distinct language - Catalan - and centuries-old customs. Both Catalan and Spanish are spoken, and many Catalans feel strongly about their cultural heritage and traditions. Spain's wealthy north-eastern region already has autonomy for its educational and healthcare systems, however key areas such as taxes, foreign affairs and most infrastructures are in the hands of the Spanish government. The regional government says it has popular support for full secession.
The central government considers the referendum is an attack against Spain’s institutional order. Prime Minister Rajoy emphasizes that a self-determination referendum in Catalonia would be taking away from other Spaniards to self-determination.
Carles Puigdemont, the regional president of Catalonia and one of the main promoters of the referendum, said that neither central Spanish authorities nor the courts could halt their plans. "We will respond to the tsunami of lawsuits with a tsunami of democracy,” he said. Rather than an intolerable act of disobedience, pro-independence coalition of Catalonia describes it as the universal right to self-determination. Catalan leaders have pledged to announce a new republic within 48 hours if the "yes" side wins the referendum, regardless of turnout at election.