Now, Spain’s Catalonia seeks referendum

Barcelona : Thousands of demonstrators rallied here in Spain demanding to be allowed to hold a controversial referendum to decide whether the prosperous northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia should become independent, reports

The Catalonian government, controlled by moderate nationalists in alliance with radicals, has vowed to go ahead with the independence plebiscite it called for Nov 9, defying opposition to the move from the central Madrid government and likely legal challenges.

Many of the demonstrators on Thursday wore Catalonia’s national colours, red and yellow, and formed a V-shaped human chain 11 km in length, as they set off from Barcelona’s two most important thoroughfares, the Diagonal and the Gran Via.

At the start of the rally, a young woman who will turn 16 Nov 9 symbolically deposited a vote in a ballot box located at the vertex point of the mass formation representing V for Victory and Vote.

The rally, which had been organised by the Catalonian National Assembly (ACN) and the Omnium Cultural NGO, was attended by leaders of the various nationalist parties that have explicitly supported the plebiscite.

Some members of the Catalonian Socialist Party (PSC), the regional offshoot of Spain’s Socialist Workers’ Party, were also present at the march.

The Catalonian Socialists reject the way the regional government (led by the conservative nationalist party Convergencia i Unio, or CiU) has been handling the issue, although it supports the Catalonian people’s right to decide and has allowed its members to attend the More than half a million people pre-registered to take part in the event, intended to put pressure on the Madrid government of Mariano Rajoy, which opposes the independence drive which it says threatens the unity of Spain’s Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the plebiscite before the date it is scheduled to be held.

At the same time when the demonstration took place in Barcelona, a counter-rally was held in Tarragona, southern Catalonia, opposing independence for the region.

As previously announced, the Catalonian president and the plebiscite’s main promoter, Artur Mas, did not attend the Barcelona rally. Sep 11 marks the celebration of the “Diada”,

Catalonia’s annual holiday, which this year coincides with the 300th anniversary of the fall of Barcelona to French troops in the War of the Spanish Succession.`

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