THE people of Catalonia will go into their referendum on October 1 knowing that if a majority vote Yes, the Catalan Government will declare independence the following day, as soon as ballot papers are counted.

Gabriela Serra, a member of the pro-independence coalition that governs Catalonia, said yesterday: “If the majority of votes are for creating a Catalan republic, obviously independence will have to be declared immediately.”

Serra was speaking as the Cat- alan Government formally began the process of extracting the region from the Spanish legal system, with the ruling coalition set to vote through the changes in the regional parliament next month.

The law change is necessary because the Government of Spain have so far used court actions and legal cases to block the referendum which would ask the 7.5 million Catalonians one simple question.

Catalonia has already paid homage to Scotland with the announcement of the question: “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic?”

It is said to have been inspired by the question used in Scotland’s referendum in 2014: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”. Yesterday also saw the results of an opinion poll by El Confidencial which asked Catalans if they would vote in the referendum and if so, how would they vote. Some 70 per cent of those surveyed said they would vote, and of them 47 per cent would vote yes against 44 per cent voting no.

The coalition in Barcelona said a new electoral body will be created under the incoming law in order to monitor the referendum process and eventually declare the winner. It will be made up of five people, either lawyers or political scientists.

All citizens older than 18 years will be eligible to vote, including those living abroad – a condition which was not used in the Scottish independence or UK European referendums.

Spain’s Constitutional Court has already overturned a resolution approved by Catalonia’s Parliament calling for the referendum to take place, not least because Catalonia has about 15 per cent of Spain’s population but accounts for almost 20 per cent of its economic wealth.

The court has also warned elected officials that they will face legal consequences if they take any steps towards holding such a vote – there are said to be more than 400 cases ongoing already. Perhaps worryingly, the Spanish Defence Minister, María Dolores de Cospedal, stated yesterday that the army is committed to defending Spain’s national sovereignty and its territorial unity. There was no further explanation of that statement.

Liz Castro, a writer and author who is the former international committee chair for the Catalan National Assembly, Catalonia’s “Yes” movement, told The National last night: “This has been a very important day.”

She explained: “We have been waiting for this for a long time, some actual details of the referendum.”

Castro is also pleased with the pledge by Catalan President Carles Puigdemont of immediate declaration of independence if a simple majority is won. “It is interesting the way they have defined it,” she said. “They don’t talk about percentages, they just say that if there are more yes votes than no votes, and they’re not bothering about abstentions or boycotts, just more yes than no. If there are more votes for yes than no, then that’s it.”

Castro added: “This is not like the Scottish referendum. We are having to do this against the background of Spanish judicial processes and threats and pretty nasty intimidation.

“I think the Spanish Government will go back to court, but the moves announced today are based on international law and the United Nations charter of human rights which says that all peoples have the right to self-determination.”