In Brief

Catalonia to push for secession from Spain

Regional parliament approves plan to quit without national assent, prompting rival MPs to walk out

Catalonian separatists have escalated their battle with Madrid and threatened to secede with or without permission.

The Catalan parliament yesterday defied Spain's constitutional court by debating a pro-independence plan and securing approval for a "unilateral disconnection" plan. It provoked a furious reaction, prompting MPs from centre-right parties to label the vote illegal and undemocratic and stage a mass walk-out.

"[Separatists] want to take us not only out of Spain and the EU, but out of the 21st century and modern democracy," said one MP from the conservative Ciudadanos party. 

Catalonia's pro-separatist president, Carles Puigdemont, announced that a confidence vote would be held on 28 September to help bring the region to "the gates of independence".

The issue "remains bitterly divisive in both Spain and within the region itself", says The Guardian. A recent poll found 47.7 per cent of Catalans to be in favour of separating from Spain, with 42.4 per cent against and 8.3 per cent undecided.

In an interview with the newspaper, the Catalan foreign affairs minister, Raul Romeva, said the Spanish government had two options: accept the reality of Catalan independence or "carry on doing what it's been doing, which is denying that reality in the belief that it can use the constitutional court and legal processes to stop it".

Catalonia votes to start secession plan

9 November 2015

Catalan independence might soon become a reality after Catalonia's regional assembly passed a resolution to introduce its own social security system and treasury, separate from Spain. The chamber, based in regional capital Barcelona, passed the motion by 72 votes to 63.

The move represents a significant step towards full secession, which pro-independence parties claim could come as early as 2017, in spite of strong opposition from the central government in Madrid.

Together for Yes, the Catalan pro-independence coalition that won its first ever majority in September's elections, was behind the resolution alongside the smaller far-left separatist Popular Unity Candidacy party. Together, they have a majority in the regional assembly, with 72 seats of the 135 seats. Raul Romeva, leader of the Together for Yes, says the resolution was backed by "a clear, incontestable, massive popular demand".

Before the vote was passed, the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, had already vowed to appeal to the Spanish constitutional court in an attempt to have the resolution declared void. He is scheduled to speak later today to comment on the outcome of the vote.

The Catalan pro-independence parties say the courts will not be able to stop the secession process, with Together for Yes pledging that "the content of the resolution will be applied regardless of what the constitutional court says. We have strength and legitimacy, even if the Spanish state resists."

Catalonia is a region of 7.5 million people with its own language and culture, which has long demanded independence from Spain and accounts for a fifth of the country's economic output. Following the country's economic crisis, calls for independence have increased.

Last year, the region tried to hold an independence referendum, but this was deemed unconstitutional by judges, who argued that in matters of national sovereignty, all Spanish people should be allowed a vote.

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