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With Defiant 'Unilateral Action,' Catalonia Approves Measure for Independence

'A referendum would be the ideal tool but the Spanish government blocked it. We have no other option but unilateral action.'

Voters dance during the 2014 referendum. (Photo: Jordi Boixareu/flickr/cc)

Catalonia's regional parliament on Monday approved a plan for independence from Spain, adopting a resolution that they say could allow the autonomous region to secede by 2017.

The motion in the wake of pro-independence parties winning a majority of seats in parliament in September 2014 and calls for the assembly to start hammering out details for a separate social security system and treasury within 30 days.

With a push from Catalan President Artur Mas' "Together for Yes" coalition and the collective voting power of the Popular Unity Candidacy (Candidatura d'Unitat Popular, CUP) separatist party, the measure passed 72-63.

Spain's conservative central government said it did not support independence for Catalonia and would challenge the resolution. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he would ask the nation's constitutional court to declare it void, which would suspend the measure until judges hear arguments from both sides.

It's expected that the court will rule in favor of Madrid, as it did in September 2014 when Catalonia attempted to schedule a vote on the issue.

However, the resolution adopted Monday states that the secession process would not be beholden to decisions that come from Spanish institutions, including the courts.

"The content of the resolution will be applied regardless of what the constitutional court says. We have strength and legitimacy, even if the Spanish states resists," said Pere Aragones, a Together for Yes assembly member.

Catalonia held a referendum for independence in 2014, defying a constitutional court order that suspended the vote after a legal challenge from Madrid. The symbolic poll showed that more than 80 percent of Catalan voters wanted to break free from Spain.

"A referendum would be the ideal tool but the Spanish government blocked it," CUP assembly member Albert Botran said Monday. "We have no other option but unilateral action."

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