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Europe's Secessionists
Catalonia Puts Secession on Hold—Indefinitely?

Spain’s firm anti-referendum stand has dealt a serious blow to the secession movement in Catalonia. The WSJ reports that the regional government has decided to bow to an injunction issued Monday by Spain’s Constitutional Court (h/t Tyler Cowen). The order stops the vote from going forward while the Court decides if it is constitutional, a deliberation which could take months. The vote was slated for early November, and local leaders claim they still intend to hold it on the same date. But in response to the injunction they have for now stopped all campaigning for the referendum:

“As a precautionary matter, we can’t put public servants and individuals against the ropes,” Mr. Homs said. He described the suspension as “temporary and precautionary,” adding that private citizens were free to promote the referendum if they so choose.

Mr. Homs indicated the government intends to take legal steps to have Monday’s injunction lifted while the court considers the central government’s request to declare the referendum illegal. He said Catalan authorities would soon present a plea to the court and hoped the justices would show the same speed in reviewing their claim as they did in accepting the central government’s case on the same day it was filed.

The Spanish government seems to be applying additional pressure, with Catalan members of Spain’s national Popular Party threatening to sue the secession movement’s leader, Artur Mas, for “misuse of funds” if a tax-payer funded referendum campaign went forward. El Pais has more from the secession leaders on why they aren’t giving up—and on the continuing grassroots support, as demonstrated by a march of “tens of thousands” pro-independence Catalans on Tuesday protesting the injunction. The fight for Catalan independence may be far from over, despite this significant setback.

In the meantime, the immediate constitutional crisis facing the country as been averted, or at least delayed, as Mas’s acceptance of the injunction eased the tensions that could have increased if the vote went forward in defiance of the Court. In a Europe increasingly roiled by violent protests and ugly versions of nationalism, that, at least, is welcome.

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