• 49.4% ‘No’ vs 41.1% ‘Yes’ to independence, says official Catalan gov’t survey
• Central gov’t to review Catalan accounts weekly to block referendum funding
Amidst signs of waning public support in Catalonia for the regional government’s push for independence from Spain, the central government in Madrid has added a financial supplement its ongoing legal strategy to block the anticipated 1st October independence referendum in the northeast region, decreeing on Friday that the Catalan government must provide detailed accounts of all expenditures by Catalan government ministries and agencies on a weekly basis, so as to prevent any public financing of the referendum process.
In the latest quarterly survey released Thursday by the Catalan government’s own Cente d’Estudis d’Opinió (“Center for Opinion Studies”), the number of Catalans who say they would vote in favor of independence has fallen three percentage points to 41.1 percent over the last quarter, the lowest level recorded by the poll since 2014. At the same time, the survey showed that 49.4 percent of Catalans are now against independence, showing a steady increase from the 42.4 percent who said they were opposed last June and once again coming close to the 50 percent of those surveyed in June 2015 who said they were against independence.
On Friday, the central government in Madrid also published a decree in Spain’s official gazette that will now require the Catalan authorities to produce detailed accounts of all expenditures by the regional government, a move government sources in Madrid said was taken after an anomaly of 6,500 euros had been detected in the Catalan government’s balance sheet, which the central government suspects may correspond to the channeling of monies to finance the referendum. Spain’s Tribunal Constitutional (Constitutional High Court) has ruled that a Catalan independence referendum would violate Spain’s 1978 Constitution and is therefore illegal and warned Catalan authorities not to proceed with financing the plebiscite.
Meanwhile, several well-known Catalan artists, academics and intellectuals, including award-winning film director Isabel Coixet, author Juan Marsé and singer-composer Joan Manuel Serrat, have begun to speak out against the independence referendum proposed by the regional government. Some have also criticized what they say is a smear campaign by some pro-independence politicians and organisations attempting to portray Catalans who do not support independence as anti-patriotic or, in some cases, as fascists. As Coixet wrote in an opinion column last week for the daily El País newspaper: “Not being an independentista doesn’t make you a fascist. It simply means that we think feeling Catalan and Spanish are not antagonistic concepts.”