Catalonia National Day
Demonstrators unfold a big pro independence flag during celebrations of Catalonia's National DayGerard Julien/AFP

Catalonia lawmakers have approved a plan that will kick off secession from Spain by 2017.

The Barcelona-based chamber passed the motion, which defies Spain's central government and establishes a roadmap for the independence, on 9 November by 72 votes to 63.

Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has said that the initiative is unconstitutional and previously threatened legal action against the Catalan parliament in case it approved the plan.

The motion, tabled by pro-secession MPs from the "Together for Yes" alliance and the extreme left-wing Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), was opposed by the Catalan branches of the country's ruling Popular Party and the Socialist and the Citizens opposition parties.

The newly constituted parliament tabled the resolution earlier in October, declaring the "initiation of the process of creating an independent Catalan state in the form of a republic". Spanish press and government called it a "coup" and a "provocation".

The pro-independence parties had said in a declaration that the approval of the motion means that Catalonia will no longer be subject to the Spanish Constitutional Court. "The process of democratic disconnection won't be subject to Spanish institutions' decisions, particularly those from the Spanish Constitutional Court, which is regarded as discredited and without competences," the manifesto said.

The declaration states the "will to start the negotiations in order to make the democratic mandate of creating a new independent Catalan State effective" and therefore it is communicated to the Spanish State, the EU and the international community as a whole.

However, article 155 of the Spanish Constitution says that the central government has the power to stop the vote from going ahead if a regional government "does not comply with constitutional law" or "acts against the general interest of Spain".

The European Free Alliance, a European political party that gathers various regionalist political parties in the 28-nation bloc, tweeted support to the resolution:


Liz Castro, international committee chair for the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), tweeted in October a rough translation of the document. The translation can be found here.

UPDATE: Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has said that the central government to will challengethe Catalonia secession vote in court.