Catalan Parties Vote to “Disconnect” from Spain

A month after the elections, Catalonia’s separatists take the first step to independence from Spain.

The palace of the Catalan regional government in Barcelona, Spain, September 26, 2012
The palace of the Catalan regional government in Barcelona, Spain, September 26, 2012 (Wikimedia Commons/Andriy Sadivskyy)

Separatist parties in Catalonia’s regional parliament voted on Monday to “disconnect” from the rest of Spain following an election in which they won a majority.

The new law commits the legislature to the “creation of the independent state of Catalonia, in the form of a republic.”

It also calls for the creation of an independent tax authority and social security system within one month.

Most controversially, it renounces all rulings from Spain’s Constitutional Court.

In 2010, when just one in five Catalans favored independence, the tribunal threw out most of the region’s autonomy statute, adding fuel to the fire of the wealthy region’s long standoff with Madrid.

After the court blocked an independence referendum last year, separatists said they would interpret the result of September’s election as a de facto vote on secession.

Pro-independence parties got 48 percent support and a majority of the seats. Opponents got 39 percent support. The balance went to parties that support Catalan self-determination but are undecided about independence.

The result forced the business-friendly regional president, Artur Mas, into an awkward alliance with the far-left Popular Unity Candidacy. Unlike Mas, it opposes continued European Union and NATO membership for an independent Catalonia.

The reaction in Madrid — where the conservative People’s Party of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fears being unseated in an election next month — was predictably indignant. Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría told reporters on Friday, “This declaration will not have any effect whatsoever.” She vowed the government would seek a court ruling to squash it.

Earlier, José García-Margallo, the Spanish foreign minister, said a “fully-fledged uprising” was taking place in Catalonia that must be “suffocated.”

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