Catalan Parties Vote to “Disconnect” from Spain

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

View of the Palau Nacional in Barcelona, Spain, December 29, 2013
View of the Palau Nacional in Barcelona, Spain, December 29, 2013 (CucombreLibre)

Separatist parties in Catalonia’s parliament have voted to “disconnect” the region 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.

Separatist majority

In 2010, when just one in five Catalans supported independence, the tribunal threw out parts of the region’s autonomy statute, adding fuel to the fire of its long-running 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 won 48 percent of the votes 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 pact with the far-left Popular Unity Candidacy. Unlike Mas, they oppose continued European Union and NATO membership for Catalonia.

Indignant

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, “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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