Catalonia's regional parliament has passed a law authorizing a non-binding "consultation" on independence from Spain. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has vowed to block the vote at all costs.
Just hours after Scotland voted "no" to independence from the United Kingdom, Catalonia's regional parliament announced on Friday that it had passed a law, which Catalan leaders say authorizes them to hold a non-binding "consultation" on independence from Spain in November.
The law was passed with a vote of 106 to 28.
Spain's central government and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, however, categorically oppose Catalonia's campaign for a referendum, as the Spanish constitution doesn't allow referendums that don't include all Spaniards.
Rajoy said he would challenge the Catalan law in Spain's Constitutional Court to block the vote, scheduled for November 9.
Catalonia's regional president, Artur Mas, supported Scottish independence and said that Catalans now want the same chance as the Scots.
He insisted that despite fierce restistance from Madrid and the outcome of the Scottish referendum, his bid to hold a vote on independence from Spain had been "strengthened".
"What happened in Scotland and the United Kingdom is not a setback for us - because what we really want in Catalonia is to have the chance to vote, the same possibility," Mas said.
Unlike the referendum in Scotland, however, the Catalan vote wouldn't result in an immediate separation from Spain. Instead, the region's population of 7.5 million would be asked if they were in favour of independence and if the result was Yes, Mas says this would provide him with a political mandate to negotiate a path towards independence for the northwest Spanish region.
Catalonia formally adopted the status of "nation" in 2006, which Spain's Constitutional Court later overruled.
ksb/glb (AFP, AP)