Mariano Rajoy says Scotland avoided 'serious consequences' of separation, but Catalans say they want chance to vote
A Catalan supporter near the parliament buildings in Edinburgh. The map shows greater Catalonia, including other Catalan-speaking areas. Photograph: Richard Hickson/Demotix/Corbis
Scotland has avoided the "serious consequences" of separation, the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has said, hours before Catalan MPs are to vote on an independence referendum stridently opposed by Madrid.
In a video statement that avoided any mention of Catalonia, Rajoy expressed his content with the outcome in Scotland and took aim at theScottish independence movement. "With their decision, Scots have avoided the large economic, social, institutional and political consequences that separation would have brought," he said.
"Yesterday they chose between segregation and integration. Between isolation and being open. Between stability and uncertainty. And they chose the best option for everyone – for themselves and for Europe."
The remarks come on a key day in the push for Catalan independence. On Friday afternoon, MPs in the region will pass a law to allow a non-binding vote on independence to take place as planned on 9 November. The central government has repeatedly insisted that any kind of vote on independence in the region would be illegal.
This week Spain's foreign minister, José Manuel García Margallo, said his government would use "the full force of the law" to block any type of vote in Catalonia, suggesting the Spanish government will challenge the Catalan law in Spain's constitutional court.
Catalan pro-independence campaigners, who are planning to rally in front of the regional parliament on Friday afternoon in support of the law, saythe anti-independence vote in Scotland will have little effect on their push to secede from Spain.
"What happened in Scotland was exactly what we expected would happen," said Ricard Gené, of the Catalan National Assembly, one of the grassroots movements that has been driving the Catalan independence movement and campaign for a referendum.
The takeaway message was that a referendum had taken place. "The main point for us is that the Scots have been able to vote and express their will collectively for their future. Whether they voted yes or no, that would have been all right," he said. "What we really feel is envy about the possibility of voting. This is what we are fighting for."
His message was echoed by Albert Royo, of Diplocat, the Catalan body responsible for public diplomacy. A yes vote in Scotland would have made things easier for Catalonia, he said. "In a way it would have acted as a kind of icebreaker for difficult issues such as EU membership and Nato membership. That might have helped an independen " t Catalonia to be welcome in the international community."
But the result in Scotland would not change the situation in Catalonia, he said, citing the hundreds of thousands of protesters who took to the streets last week to urge the Spanish government to allow a referendum. "Just because the Scots voted no, it does not mean that everyone here will decide to give up and conclude that the issue is over."
Royo said the Scottish referendum was "a lesson on how to tackle these kinds of issue in the 21st century." A second lesson lay in the outcome, he added, as it showed that "letting people vote does not mean that they will automatically vote for independence.
Source: The Guardian