>> Catalonia's Pro-Independance Parties kicked off their referendum campaign on Thursday. The vote, planned for the 1st of October is contested by Spain's central government. The country's state prosecutor summoned over 700 Catalan mayors who support the referendum.>> The Spanish Constitution states that Spain is indivisible. That Spain cannot be split up.
So this referendum is illegal according to the Spanish Constitution. Spain's 1978 Constitution which incidentally Catalan's voted for.>> Huge rallies fulfill the streets of Barcelona in recent years to support an independence vote. With many Catalans wanting to wrestle control from the central government, especially over taxes and foreign affairs.
Catalans are fiercely proud of their cultural heritage and language, and are ready to stand alone in Europe. But the EU President on Thursday made it clear that membership of the European Union is not guaranteed. An independent Catalonia would have to apply to join the club like everyone else.
>> This kind of standoff between Barcelona and Madrid has served to deepen feelings of bitterness by Catalans towards Madrid, towards the central government. They feel that they're not being listened to. That the Prime Minister is just stonewalling their demands for a referendum. They say they just want the right to vote.
>> Catalonia is one of the wealthiest regions of Spain, famed for its business acumen and its industry. But Catalonia is also one of the most indebted regions of Spain, following the country's economic crisis. The drive for independence dates back to the 1700s when Catalonia did exist as a principality.
But for now the state prosecutor in Madrid has ordered police to prevent any preparations for the referendum.