BARCELONA, Spain – Spain’s autonomous Catalonia region on Monday passed a historic resolution supporting independence, with the separatist alliance that tabled the motion saying this could happen within 18 months.
The resolution calls for separation from Spain by 2017.
The controversial bill was approved with 72 votes against 63, a year after the Catalan government held an informal referendum on independence, which Madrid declared illegal.
MPs from the coalition Junts pel Si (Together for Yes), which includes acting prime minister Artur Mas’ center-rightist CIU party and the small leftist CUP, threw their votes behind the resolution.
Both parties together hold the majority in the chamber since local elections in September.
Monday’s historic resolution ended with ceremonies in which regional representatives from both sides waved Catalan and Spanish flags inside the chamber.
The resolution says the parliament is not beholden to decisions by the Spanish central government – the first time in Spanish history that this has happened.
The motion gives Catalan lawmakers 30 days to start working on a new Catalan constitution that will be put to a vote in a later referendum, and on legislation to create a new tax and social security administration.
The end result would be a fully independent republic.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned in a televised speech that his government would appeal the decision at the Constitutional Court.
“The government will not allow this to continue,” he declared.
“Catalonia is not going to disconnect from anywhere, and there is going to be no break-up,” he said.
Catalonia, a region of 7.5 million people in Spain’s northeast, has its own distinctive culture and language.
A long-running separatist movement in Catalonia has been fueled by politicians who protest that the rich, industrialized region is contributing too much to the national budget in order to subsidize the country’s poorer provinces.