BARCELONA, Spain, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- The Catalonia region of Spain will ignore a court order from the central government and hold a symbolic straw poll to gauge the population's opinion of succeeding and forming an independent nation.
Spanish leaders in Madrid had banned Catalonia's 7.5 million people from holding an independence referendum, but Catalan leader Artur Mas said the resource and finance-rich nation would still conduct a non-binding consultation on Nov. 9.
"The government of Catalonia will never do anything against the freedom of expression of the Catalans," Francesc Homs, regional government spokesman, said in a press conference. Homs also said Catalonia will sue Spain's central government, claiming criminalizing the referendum violated Catalans' "fundamental rights."
Viewing the straw poll as as a "covert referendum," the central government again sued in Constitutional Court to keep Catalans from the polls.
"What any government subject to the law ... has to do, and what I'm sure the Catalan government is going to do, is to suspend the institutional action and not [conduct the poll]," Spain's Justice Minister Rafael Catalá said.
Despite Catalá's urgings, Mas is faced with pressure to ignore the central government from both the Catalan people and local opposition party the Republican Left of Catalonia, which is even more aggressively secessionist than Mas' liberal nationalist Democratic Convergence of Catalonia.
"It is a game of chicken," Joan Botella, a political scientist at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, explained to the Wall Street Journal.
With the straw poll set to be conducted Sunday, it's now Madrid's turn to accelerate or hit the breaks.