Catalonia Parliament has cleared the way for an independence vote which Spain’s government contends is illegal and a “kick to democracy”
Spain: Catalonia’s Parliament has passed a legislation paving way for an October 1 referendum on whether to declare independence from Spain – a vote fiercely opposed by the central government in Madrid.
On Wednesday the region’s ruling, pro-sovereignty coalition – boasting a majority in the Catalan parliament – managed to get the referendum law passed despite angry objections from opposition MPs.
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont signed the bill into local law immediately after the vote, when it was adopted with 72 votes in favour and 11 abstentions in the 135-seat chamber in Barcelona. 52 opposition MPs, who oppose independence for the wealthy northeastern region of Spain, walked out of the chamber in Barcelona in protest at the end of an ill-tempered, 11-hour session.
When the outcome was announced separatist MPs sang the official national anthem of Catalonia, Els Segadors, which recalls a 1640 revolt against the Spanish monarchy in the region.
However, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, has asked the constitutional court to nullify it and is expected to hold an emergency cabinet meeting on Thursday.
Prime Minister Rajoy reiterated a few days ago that there is no way he would allow the economically important region to break away.
“The Catalonians cannot carry out this referendum as planned because they are not allowed to do so either by the constitution or existing law,” Rajoy said.
Spain’s deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, described the day’s events in the Catalan parliament as embarrassing and urged punitive measures to be taken against the chamber’s speakers.
“Today’s session has been an embarrassing show, a kick to democracy,” Saenz de Santamaria said in a televised press conference. “We are defending the rule of law in Spain and democracy in Catalonia.”
She also said that Spain’s cabinet is ready to challenge the constitutionality of the bill in the country’s top court if it is finally passed.