Catalonia region fights Spanish central gov’t for autonomy with referendum

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(FILES) This file photo taken on September 25, 2015 shows people waving Catalan and Catalan independence flags (Estelada) during the Catalan independence coalition “Junts pel Si” (Together for the Yes) party’s final campaign meeting for the regional election, in Barcelona. The political summer looks hot in Spain where the separatist government that runs Catalonia multiply their gestures of defiance, determined to organize in two months a prohibited referendum for self-determination, despite threats from Madrid. / AFP PHOTO / Josep LAGO

The people of Catalonia, an autonomous region in southeast Spain, are scheduled to vote on an independence referendum on Oct. 1, deciding whether to stay in Spain or become an independent region.

The referendum is expected to further strain the relationship between Catalonia and the country’s central government, which sees the vote as illegal.

The Spanish government in Madrid has said this referendum violates their constitution. On Sept 8, Spain’s constitutional court suspended the October 1st referendum after agreeing to review an appeal from Madrid.

Speaking at news conference after White House talks with U.S. President Trump, Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, said the situation is “just crazy.”

Nonetheless, the Catalan government confirmed the vote would still take place. The region is very wealthy, having contributed 20 percent to Spain’s GDP in 2015.

However, the region’s government believes that Spain has failed to in incorporating Catalonia’s autonomy into the country’s political setup.

The Spanish government has been actively trying to squash the referendum. But millions of Catalans are hoping this referendum could restore sovereignty for them.