Today the regional Government of Catalonia is set to pass legislation that would formalise a referendum on Catalonian independence from Spain scheduled for October 1.
Although the quasi-autonomous province already has an independent parliament and police force, separatist movements have been gaining steam for a decade, culminating in the success of a left-wing pro-independence coalition in the 2015 regional elections. While a non-binding low-turnout referendum in 2014 endorsed independence with 80% of the vote, polling consistently shows unionists have a slight edge over separatists.
Even if public support for Catalonian independence were stronger, gaining it by holding a referendum is proving difficult as both the United Nations and the Spanish government oppose a vote and the country’s Constitutional Court has deemed the upcoming referendum unconstitutional.
Madrid is further threatening legal action against Catalonian regional leaders, as well as companies or civil servants that assist in organising the referendum. The government is also considering invoking Article 155 of the constitution, which would allow them to nationalise the Catalonian police or shut down schools and other potential polling places.
Although Catalonian leaders remain defiant, sturdy opposition from the government and division within the Catalonian population makes secession unlikely.