Catalans change rules to enable ‘express’ independence

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont speaking in 'Parlament' Wednesday. Photo: Andreu Dalmau/EFE via La Vanguardia

• Pro-independence parties can now rubber stamp referendum, secession laws
• ‘Guardia Civil’ adds sedition to criminal charges against top Catalan officials

Catalonia’s Parlament on Wednesday voted 72-63 to adopt a critical change to parliamentary rules that will give the Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) coalition and its pro-independence Candidatura d’Unitat Popular (CUP, United People’s Candidacy) allies the power to rubber-stamp “express” approval — with no possibility of parliamentary debate or amendment — upcoming legislation to allow the region in northeast Spain to hold an independence referendum and secede from Spain if pro-independence voters prevail by just one vote, with no minimum participation required.

Legislators from Ciudadanos, the Partido Popular (PP), Socialist party (PSOE-PSC) and the Podemos-backed Catalunya Sí que es Pot coalition opposed the move and immediately decried the rules change as a violation of parliamentary democracy guaranteed under Catalonia’s charter, the Estatut d’Autonomía, with the Socialists, Ciudadanos and PP saying they would challenge it in the courts. President Mariano Rajoy of the governing PP immediately called an urgent meeting of his Consejo de Estado (Council of State) to decide if Spain’s central government would challenge the rules-change before Spain’s Tribuna Constitucional (Constitutional High Court) and, if so, on what grounds.

Spain’s Guardia Civil national police force is meanwhile moving forward with criminal investigations into the preparations for the announced 1st October referendum vote, interviewing top officials in the Catalan Generalitat regional government and charging several with disobeying court orders to desist in the preparation of the referendum, providing false testimony and misusing of public funds.

On Wednesday, the Guardia Civil announced that as a result of its investigation, the general secretary of the office of the Catalan presidency, Joaquim Nin, will be charged with the crime of sedition when brought before a magistrate. The development marks the first time that any Catalan official involved in the preparation of an independence vote has been charged with sedition, which under Spanish law carries a possible jail sentence of up to 15 years.

► Read More in Spanish at El Periódico, La Vanguardia and El País …

► Read More in English at TheLocal.es and AP via NY Daily News …

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