MADRID/BARCELONA (Reuters) – The Catalan regional leader on Thursday said he would press on with an Oct. 1 referendum on a split from Spain, flouting a court ban, as tens of thousands gathered for a second day on the streets of Barcelona demanding the right to vote.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said he had contingency plans in place to ensure the vote would go ahead, directly defying Madrid and pushing the country closer to political crisis.
Spain’s Constitutional Court banned the vote earlier this month after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said it violated Spain’s 1978 constitution, which states the country is indivisible. Most opposition parties are also against the vote.
“All the power of the Spanish state is set up to prevent Catalans voting,” Puigdemont said in a televised address.
“We will do it because we have contingency plans in place to ensure it happens, but above all because it has the support of the immense majority of the population, who are sick of the arrogance and abuse of the People’s Party government.”
On Thursday, tens of thousands gathered outside the seat of Catalonia’s top court in Barcelona, singing and banging drums, to protest the arrests of senior officials in police raids on regional government offices on Wednesday.