Spain PM hails scrapping of Catalan `referendum`

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy hailed Wednesday the watering-down of Catalan leaders` plans for a vote on independence for their region, despite their vow to push on with a symbolic ballot.

AFP| Updated: Oct 15, 2014, 16:52 PM IST

Madrid: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy hailed Wednesday the watering-down of Catalan leaders` plans for a vote on independence for their region, despite their vow to push on with a symbolic ballot.

Rajoy`s conservative government launched a legal challenge that led to the Constitutional Court suspending legislation aimed at organising a vote on whether the rich northeastern region should break away from Spain.

Catalonia`s President Artur Mas said on Tuesday the non-binding ballot called for November could therefore not go ahead as planned but vowed to hold a symbolic vote on that date that would fall short of a full referendum.

"The referendum is not going to take place, Mr Mas said so yesterday. I called that good news yesterday and I say it again now," Rajoy told reporters in the corridors of parliament.

"This is a triumph for democracy and law. No political official, no leader whatsoever, not even the national parliament, can be above the law."

Rajoy is fiercely opposed to Catalonia breaking away from Spain and has vowed to defend the unity of the country as it emerges from an economic crisis.

He said he was open to "dialogue" to settle the tense standoff with Catalonia, but the government would launch a fresh appeal against Mas`s revised voting plan if it looked illegal.

"I do not know what is planned for November 9, but our only criteria are dialogue and the law," he said.

"If we see things that go against the law, we will have to appeal."