Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced on Monday his government would file an appeal with the Constitutional Court to ensure that an independence declaration backed by the Catalan regional parliament has “no consequences”, he told a news conference.
Catalonia's regional government earlier on Monday voted in favor of a resolution to split from Spain. The chamber, based in the northeastern city of Barcelona, passed the secession resolution by 72 votes to 63.
The proposal was made by pro-secession lawmakers from the “Together for Yes” alliance and the extreme left-wing Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP). The groups together obtained a parliamentary majority in regional elections in September that they presented as a stand-in plebiscite on independence after the central government in Madrid refused to allow an official referendum.
The Spanish government reacted swiftly Monday. In a nationally televised address, Rajoy said his government will appeal the decision at the constitutional Court, which has in the past blocked moves toward independence.
“Catalonia is not going anywhere, nothing is going to break,” Rajoy said.
He added he would meet with the leader of the main opposition Socialist Party, Pedro Sanchez, to forge a common front against the separatists.
The resolution passed by the Catalan parliament in its first postelection session declared “the start of a process toward the creation of an independent Catalan state in the form of a republic” and a “process of democratic disconnection not subject to the decisions by the institutions of the Spanish state.”
While separatist lawmakers celebrated the result in the chamber, opponents held up Spanish and Catalan flags.
“There is a growing cry for Catalonia to not merely be a country, but to be a state, with everything that means,” said Raul Romeva, head of the “Together for Yes” alliance.
Catalan branches of Spain’s ruling conservative Popular Party and the Socialist and the Citizens opposition parties had filed appeals to halt the vote, but Spain’s constitutional Court ruled last Thursday that it could go ahead.
The constitutional Court is expected to rule the law illegal quickly, but the resolution specifically orders the regional government not to heed the decision of Spain’s highest court. It gives the incoming government 30 days to start working on a new Catalan constitution, which would later be voted on in a referendum by the summer of 2017, and begin establishing a new tax office and social security administration.