Catalan parliament approves law to call referendum on independence

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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.

However, the Spanish Constitutional Court is likely to strike down this law, just as it has with other laws passed in the Catalan parliament related to the independence referendum.

She blasted the regional assembly's agreement to quickly vote on the bill as an "act of force" that is characteristic of "dictatorial regimes".

The bill was submitted to the parliament outside of its normal schedule which prompted criticism from opposition parties.

Lawmakers who back independence won an absolute majority in the 135-seat Catalan regional parliament for the first time in a September 2015 election.

The referendum plan has created a deep political crisis because the country's constitution bans it.

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The 2014 vote was non-binding, a symbolic ballot by pro-independence campaigners that was declared illegal by Spain's Constitutional Court.

The cabinet that makes up the executive branch of Catalonia's government has unanimously endorsed a decree calling for an October 1 "binding self-determination referendum" on the region's independence from Spain.

Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had asked the court to challenge the law, which will approve a referendum on Catalan independence on October 1, since the law goes against previous rulings.

Spanish courts have already suspended from office Catalan politicians who organised a non-binding referendum in 2014, which returned a "yes" vote on a low turnout.

But a referendum in defiance of Spain's rule of law, without the blessing of central authorities, has inflamed controversy.

Be very clear that you will not split up Spain, but you are breaking up Catalonia.

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"If Catalonia were to leave Spain, then Barcelona would have the luxury of choosing which League they wished to participate in".

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. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has vowed to use all legal measures to ensure that it doesn't take place.

If the region pushes through with the referendum, it will move even further on its path towards a collision course with the national government, which has repeatedly argued that any attempt to break away from Spain is illegal and will not be recognised.

The laws are expected to be approved because pro-independence parties have a majority in the regional parliament.

Opponents of independence for the wealthy northeastern region of Spain greeted the decision with jeers.

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