The Canarian government's decision to call a referendum on the controversial plans for an oil industry in the islands is a non-starter, according to Madrid, which says it has no jurisdiction in the matter.
Deputy prime minister Soraya Saez de Santamaría attacked the announcement by Canarian president Paulino Rivero on Monday that the people of the islands would be consulted over whether oil giant Repsol should be allowed to carry out exploratory drilling off Lanzarote and Fuerteventura later this year. "The Constitution makes clear that the Canarian government can call a referendum only on matters over which it has jursidiction and this is not one of them. Madrid has acted within the law at all times in issuing the licenses, as several court rulings in cases brought by the regional authorities have proven" said the deputy PM yesterday. Here in the Canaries, opponents of Rivero say he is "misleading the population" into believing they have a say in the drilling. However, the government says it fully intends to proceed with the referendum and has followed the correct process to seek leave to hold it.