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Spanish nationalists act to block Catalan secession bid

Pro-Spain parties have asked the government to halt the secession process in Catalonia. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said he will do everything it takes to prevent the country from splitting up.

Three pro-Spain parties urged the country's Constitutional Court on Wednesday to block a vote that could open the door to Catalan independence.

The Catalan branches of the Popular Party, the Socialists and center-right Ciudadanos all issued separate appeals asking the government to step in, as the region's parliament prepares to vote next week on a bill that would effectively kick-start the secession process.

In October, the Catalonia-based "Together for Yes" pro-independence alliance introduced a bill calling for a secession referendum. The move drew a

rapid response

from conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who called it an "act of provocation" and ensured he would "use all the political and legal means" at his disposal to block the bill.

Calls for secession have steadily grown over the years, as Catalan nationalists gain more traction in the polls. Yet even though pro-independence groups won a majority of the seats in the region's parliament in November, most Catalans - 51 percent - oppose the bill calling for a secession, according to the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

blc/rc (AFP, AP)

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