Well that escalated quickly

Imagine if Auckland local politicians decided that they wanted Auckland to be declared independent from the rest of New Zealand and wanted to hold a referendum at the state government’s expense to find out if Aucklanders supported the change.

In Spain, the wealthy highly populated region of Catalonia, which has its own language and distinct culture, has had an independence movement for a long time which grew in popularity during the economic crisis. It was reported in July this year that the government of Spain had lodged a legal bid to stop Catalonia holding an independence referendum. The government asked the Constitutional Court to veto moves by the regional assembly. The Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced, “There will not be any referendum on October 1,”

Since July the tensions between Madrid and Barcelona intensified as Catalonia’s separatist government moved ahead with the vote.

[…] Catalan lawmakers gave themselves powers to fast-track some laws and preparations for the referendum.

Mr Rajoy said his government had filed a legal bid to block to those reforms with the Constitutional Court, which has previously ruled against secessionist challenges.

-Newshub

In an attempt to stop them the Spanish government told Catalonia it would lose access to some public funds if it used state money to organise the referendum.

Two months later the Spanish government’s resistance to the referendum has escalated significantly.

More than 700 Mayors from across Catalonia have gathered in Barcelona to confirm their support for a planned independence referendum that Madrid has declared illegal..

The Mayors met with Catalonia’s regional head Carles Puigdemont in a show of defiance, following Spanish prosecutors warning earlier this week that officials engaging in any preparations for the vote could be charged with civil disobedience, abuse of office and misuse of public funds.

On Wednesday, Spanish prosecutors summoned for questioning more than 700 Mayors who had said they would allow municipal spaces to be used for voting. If the Mayors do not respond to the order, police should arrest them, the order said.

Meeting in downtown Barcelona in front of hundreds of flag waving pro-independence protesters, the mayors gave speeches in which they promised continued support for the referendum amid chants of “we will vote” and “independence”.

[…] Spanish police have raided several print shops and newspaper offices in recent days in a hunt for voting papers, ballot boxes and leaflets to be used for the referendum.

Catalonia’s top court on Friday issued a warning to seven newspapers not to publish campaign notices for the referendum, a court spokesperson said.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called for a return to “rationality and legality” and promised to block the vote.

-Reuters

Despite all this, they went ahead with their plans for the referendum which they plan to hold today.

[…] “I insist that there will be no referendum on October 1,” spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo said during a press conference following the weekly cabinet meeting, reiterating the government’s position that the vote was illegal.

Earlier, Catalonia’s leader made it clear his government is determined to go ahead with the vote, which has thrust Spain into its most dramatic political crisis for decades.

“Everything is prepared at the more than 2,000 voting points so they have ballot boxes and voting slips, and have everything people need to express their opinion,” Carles Puigdemont told Reuters.

Spain’s central authorities have sent thousands of police reinforcements to Catalonia to ensure no votes are cast. Regional courts have ordered police to cordon off schools scheduled to be used as ballot stations.

Separatists have called on people to turn out at the polling stations in a mass statement of “peaceful resistance”, even if they are prevented from voting.

-Reuters

At first glance, this looks to me like democracy is being suppressed. What do you think? Should it be illegal to run a local government referendum? Phil Goff refusing to run one on Maori council seats in Auckland springs to mind. The State government can refuse to pay for it but if the local government want to go ahead should the State government stop them using police? Who is being unreasonable here?


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If you agree with me that’s nice but what I really want to achieve is to make you question the status quo. Look between the lines, do your own research. Do not be a passive observer in this game we call life.

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