The Spanish state is playing its last card in trying to prevent the referendum on self-determination, announced by the Catalan government for this year. One by one, several Catalan pro-independence leaders have been called to the Spanish courts, accused of criminal disobedience for holding a symbolic independence referendum in 2014. First to face trial was the current president of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Focadell, then came the former president of the Generalitat, Artur Mas and finally this Monday was the turn of Francesc Homs, former spokesman of the Catalan Government.
However, the incumbent conservative Popular Party government strategy of politicising the courts has faced sharp criticism. By simply transferring the burning issue of Catalan independence to the courtroom whilst infringing on the separation of powers, PP´s policy is subsequently adding fuel to the fire rather than quelling Catalan demands for self-determination.
In recent years, unprecedented demonstrations have regularly taken place all over Catalonia reflecting a heightening of the pro-independence voice. Tensions between Madrid and Barcelona have become more and more strained over the topic of independence in the past decade, mostly because of the capital’s actions. Initially, the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia was banned in 2006 because it defined Catalonia as a nation. Furthermore, President Mariano Rajoy has refused to negotiate the revision of the fiscal pact requested by the Catalans and continuously blocks requests for a referendum on independence.
A growing segment of Spanish society has understood that a referendum is inevitable. Recently, some parts of PSOE (Socialist Party) joined Podemos (a newly-created anti-austerity party) and regional parties in supporting this request. The ruling conservative Popular Party must recognise that ignoring the Catalan pro-independence social outcry is and will be impossible. Whether in favour of self-determination or not, it becomes more evident as each day passes the key is to allow democratic participation as citizens exercise their right to vote and voice their opinion in an independence referendum.