Spain's top court has rejected the Catalan government's motion to begin the secession process. The country's conservative government had earlier vowed to prevent the region from splitting from Spain.
Spain's top court revoked a resolution passed by Catalonia last month to begin its split from the rest of the country, a month after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy vowed to use every means at his disposal to hold Spain together.
Pro-separatist lawmakers in the country's wealthy northeastern region approved the legislation on November 7, prompting Rajoy's conservative government to file a challenge before the Constitutional Court. The resolution, which called on the regional assembly to create a separate social security system and treasury within 30 days, effectively initiated the secession process.
The court had previously suspended the resolution for at least five months, as Rajoy pushed for judges to block the process completely.
Pro-secession Catalan lawmakers have made a strong push for independence in recent months, drawing stern condemnation from Rajoy and other nationalist politicians around the country.
After separatist parties in Catalonia introduced a bill calling for a secession referendum in October, the prime minister went on television to slam the move.
"I want to send a message of reassurance to the people of Spain, and especially to the Catalans," Rajoy assured his audience. "As long as I'm in charge of the government, Spain will continue to be a nation of free and equal citizens."
Catalan nationalists won a majority of the seats in the regional parliament in September, sparking the recent drive for independence.
blc/rc (AFP, Reuters)