‘Madrid can’t overcome our democracy’ Catalan Speaker says independence ...

Carme Forcadell, part of the Together for Yes coalition which is campaigning for the region to become an independent state, told Express.co.uk in an exclusive interview even if the Spanish government opted to enact Article 155 the referendum would still go ahead.

Ms Forcadell said: “The Spanish government still does not understand that it can not extinguish the Catalan people’s will to freely decide their own future, and no legal or repressive action shall stop this from happening. I have no doubt that on October 1, the Catalan people will cast their votes.”

She added: “The state will use everything in its arsenal, as it is already doing, to act against the elected representatives of the Catalan people, to frighten and threaten civil servants, and to further intervene in the Generalitat’s finances. Threats are and will increase, but there is no force that is strong enough to overcome our democracy.”

Carme Forcadell and Carles PuigdemontGettyCarme Forcadell (L) with the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont

Invoking Article 155 is effectively Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s ultimate weapon in his arsenal to try to halt the referendum taking place.

The measure allows the state to take any “necessary measures in order to compel forcibly” with compliance.

The prospect of the extreme measure actually being used is real with Justice Minister Rafael Catalá saying in February that it was “an option” adding that it had an obligation to defend the law and the constitution.

However, Ms Forcadell and those in the region supporting independence see the moves by Mr Rajoy’s administration, especially his use of legal measures, as “undemocratic” and are “fully prepared” to resort to civil disobedience.

Ms Forcadell said: “We are fully prepared to defend our democracy and the Catalan people’s right to decide.”

Wed, July 5, 2017 The 'Castellers' who build the human towers with precise techniques compete in groups, know as 'colles', at local festivals with aim to build the highest and most complex human tower. The Catalan tradition is believed to have originated from human towers built at the end of the 18th century by dance groups and is part of the Catalan culture.

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The Spanish government still does not understand that it can not extinguish the Catalan people’s will to freely decide their own future, and no legal or repressive action shall stop this from happening. I have no doubt that on October 1, the Catalan peo

Carme Forcadell, Speaker of the Catalan Parliament

Madrid has increasingly used legal means to suppress the drive for independence with even Ms Forcadell forced to defend her actions in the high court last year over letting the assembly vote on whether or not to pursue independence.

The former Catalan President Artur Mas was banned from holding public office for two years in March this year and fined for disobeying the constitutional court and holding a symbolic independence referendum in 2014.

Similarly, the former Catalan vice-president Joana Ortega, who was banned from holding public office for 21 months for helping to facilitate the same vote.

Francesc Homs, a former spokesman for the Catalan government, was also barred from holding office for 13 months.

Even now the region’s Minister of Governance Meritxell Borràs Solé recently faced charges for merely purchasing ballot boxes for the upcoming referendum.

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Ms Forcadell claims that there have been more than 350 “court cases launched against mayors councillors and town halls for being linked to supporting Catalan independence or the referendum”.

She added: “The Spanish government is dealing with a political conflict through the courts. 

“In particular, through a politicised court like the Constitutional Court, which is chaired by a PP [People’s Party] militant [Juan José González Rivas –

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