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Catalan parliament approves law to call referendum on independence
07 September 2017, 01:53 | Simon Arnold
Poll: Spain Could Lose Major Region Within A Month
The region has pushed for a legitimate referendum for years.
"We are defending the rule of law in Spain and democracy in Catalonia", the deputy prime minister said.
The Spanish government on Wednesday has asked the Constitutional Court to block the Catalan parliament from voting on a bill that lays the groundwork for an independence referendum.
Amid the chaos, accusations of procedural flaws by the opposition and numerous pauses in the meeting, Spain's deputy prime minister made a televised appearance to announce that Rajoy's conservative government was urging the Constitutional Court to take punitive measures against the Catalan legislative body's committee of speakers.
Madrid meanwhile called on the country's Constitutional Court to declare the Catalan law null and void, describing the move by the Catalan parliament as "an act of force".
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy repeated a few days ago that there is no way he would allow the economically important region to break away.
In a show of political unity at the national level, the leaders of the Socialists and the business-friendly Ciudadanos party held conversations with Rajoy on Wednesday.
In 2014, months after Scotland voted to stay in the United Kingdom, pro-independence campaigners staged a symbolic ballot, organised by volunteers rather than government officials to get around court restrictions.
Both Catalan and Spanish are spoken in the region of 7.5 million people, and many Catalans feel strongly about their cultural heritage and traditions.
In order to facilitate the law adoption process, the supporters of Catalonia's independence have amended the parliament's standing orders.
Opposition lawmakers in Catalonia are contesting a decision by the head of the regional parliament to vote on a bill that paves the way for a controversial independence referendum. But the majority of Catalans do want the opportunity to vote on whether to split from Spain. The draft law provides for the implementation of the referendum results in 48 hours after they are submitted and does not have any requirements concerning minimum turnout.
In addition, a Spanish audit office has demanded the former leader of Catalonia, Artur Mas, and other politicians pay a $6 million (5 million euro) fine by September 25 for holding the 2014 vote, El Pais newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Catalonia yesterday announced a law to make formal its plans for an Oct 1 referendum on whether to declare independence from Spain, a vote the Spanish government says is illegal and which it has said it will stop. The "yes" vote to break away from Spain won at the time amid a low turnout by voters.
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