Although it’s uncertain how organized and widespread any ballot will turn out to be on Sunday — and analysts are split over whether anything will take place — it’s widely seen as a constitutional crisis for the Spanish government that is set to rumble on.
“Regardless of turnout or the result this weekend, the Catalan referendum is becoming yet another PR disaster for the political establishment in Spain,” Stephen Gallo, European Head of FX Strategy at BMO Financial Group, said in a note Wednesday.
“Although the Catalan referendum is considered unconstitutional, the defensive posture adopted by Madrid is only adding more fuel to the fire.”
Aside from deploying police and seizing any documents or paraphernalia that it thinks is related to holding a referendum vote, Madrid has sought the moral high ground too, issuing a statement on its government website this week in which it attempts to undermine the legitimacy of any vote.
“Articles 1 and 2 of our Constitution enshrine the principles of national sovereignty, which resides in the Spanish people as a whole, and of national unity, in line with the fundamental precepts of advanced democracies. The exercise of an alleged right of self-determination by a part of the Spanish territory is not allowed in the Spanish Constitution,” the government said.
It added that “in recent weeks, the secessionist defiance promoted by certain institutions in Catalonia has escalated in a way that underscores its authoritarian, arbitrary and antidemocratic nature, and its intention to openly contravene the prevailing legal framework.”