Spain’s Constitutional Court has suspended next Monday’s session of the Catalan parliament, in a bid to pre-empt a possible push for independence.
The court said such a move would be “a breach of the constitution”.
Earlier Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned Catalonia’s regional government against declaring independence after a disputed vote last Sunday.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont had indicated that he could make such a declaration at next week’s session.
The court’s ruling on Thursday upheld a challenge not from the government in Madrid, but by the Socialists’ Party of Catalonia, which opposes secession from Spain.
Allowing the regional parliament to meet and declare independence, the court said, would violate the rights of the party’s MPs.
An earlier ruling by the court aimed at stopping Sunday’s vote was ignored by Catalonia’s leaders. That challenge to the court had come from Spain’s government, which condemned the referendum as illegal.
The socialists won almost 13% of the vote in the 2015 election, and has 13 MPs in the 135-seat regional parliament.
Organisers of Sunday’s vote put the turnout at 42%, with 2.2 million people taking part. They say 90% voted for independence, however they have not published final results. There have been several claims of irregularities.
There was violence at polling stations as police, trying to enforce a Spanish court decision to ban the vote, attempted to seize ballot boxes and disperse voters.
Also on Thursday, Sabadell, a major bank, decided to transfer its legally registered base from Barcelona to the south-eastern Spanish city of Alicante. Its HQ and workforce will remain in Barcelona.
CaixaBank, another large Barcelona-based institution, is reported to be considering a similar move. This would ensure the banks remained within the eurozone and under the supervision of the European Central Bank.
The captain of Barcelona Football Club, Andres Iniesta, appealed for dialogue. “Do it for all of us. We deserve to live in peace,” the 33-year-old said in a Facebook post. (Courtesy BBC)