Spain responds to Scottish Government statement on Catalonia

Thousands gathered yesterday at the gates of Catalonia's judicial body in Barcelona (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Thousands gathered yesterday at the gates of Catalonia's judicial body in Barcelona (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
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The Spanish Government has rejected a statement by Scottish ministers over the proposed Catalonian independence referendum.

Amid tensions between Madrid and the Catalonian government, people gathered outside a government building in Barcelona after reports 12 officials were arrested (see video).

On October 1, registered voters in Catalonia are due go to the polls to decide whether the region should break away from the rest of Spain.

The hugely controversial vote was called by the Catalan assembly - where a majority of representatives are pro-independence - and has not been officially sanctioned by the Spanish government.

Cabinet secretary for external affairs Fiona Hyslop said on Sunday “that all peoples have the right to self-determination and to choose the form of government best suited to their needs, a principle which is enshrined in the UN Charter.”

She added that the the Edinburgh Agreement was “an example of how two governments, with diametrically opposed views on whether or not Scotland should become independent, were able to come together to agree a process to allow the people to decide. It is essential that democracy and civil rights are respected in all countries.”

But the Spanish Government said the example of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum could not be applied to Catalonia.

“Spain cannot apply the United Kingdom’s solution for the Scottish issue: our historical origins and our legal-political systems are different,” a spokesperson for Spain’s ministry of foreign affairs told Buzzfeed News. “Spain has a written constitution, submitted to the vote of all Spaniards in 1978 and approved by 87.7% (and 91.4% of the Catalonian voters), which makes the rules of the game clear.

“The Spanish constitution enshrines the Spanish nation as a political and social reality prior to the constitution itself. Therefore, national unity is the basis of our constitution. There are established procedures to amend the constitution. Therefore, in our legal framework, a referendum in the form proposed by the United Kingdom to Scotland would only be possible if the constitution were amended.

“The British case is an exception to an overwhelming majority of written constitutions that do not recognise this possibility. Recent judicial decisions in Germany and Italy have underlined the same constitutional approach as Spain. More concretely, according to Germany’s Supreme Court ‘there is no room under the constitution for individual states to attempt to secede’.”

READ MORE: Why Catalonia’s independence vote is ‘very different’ from Scotland’s