Spain's Constitutional Court has ruled the Catalan parliament's recent secession vote illegal. Hoping to gain political momentum, pro-independence activists are urging their supporters to block roads and trains.
On Wednesday, Spain's Constitutional Court officially annulled the Catalan parliament's unilateral declaration of independence from October 27. The court had initially suspended implementation of secession while it studied the legality of the vote following a challenge by Spain's government.
"The declaration of independence of October 27 has been declared unconstitutional and void," a court spokeswoman said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
Secession passed by 70 votes to 10 in the 135-seat Catalan parliament — a majority of the legislature even with opposition politicians boycotting. In response, Spain fired Catalonia's government, dissolved the parliament and called a new regional election for December.
Protests in Catalonia
A general strike called by pro-independence activists caused transport chaos on Wednesday.
Protesters shut down dozens of major roads and disrupted public transport after two civic groups and a small labor union called the strike.
Supporters of secession chanted "freedom for political prisoners" and scuffled with police who tried to remove them.
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Spain's two main unions did not back the strike, which was not reported have had any major effect on industry or tourism. However, more than 50 road routes were briefly halted, causing traffic headaches, and dozens of local and high speed train lines were shut down.
In the northern city of Girona, several protesters pushed past police controls to enter the city's main railway station
Independence campaigners are seeking to regain political momentum after failing to agree on a joint ticket for December's election. Deposed President Carles Puigdemont's center-right Catalan European Democratic Party and the Republican Left of Vice President Oriol Junqueras will contest the election as separate parties. They could still form a coalition after the election, but polling and projections showed they would have won more seats had they run together.
On Wednesday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he hoped new elections would usher in "a period of calm" and business as usual for the region.
"I'm hoping for massive participation in the election ... and, after that, we'll return to normality," he told the Spanish parliament in Madrid.
mkg, aw/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)