The regional parliament of northeastern Catalonia approved a plan Monday to set up a road map for independence from Spain by 2017, in defiance of the central government. The Barcelona-based chamber passed the motion by 72 votes to 63. The proposal was tabled by pro-secession lawmakers from the Together for Yes alliance and the extreme left-wing Popular Unity Candidacy. The groups together obtained a parliamentary majority in regional elections in September. "There is a growing cry for Catalonia to not merely be a country, but to be a state with everything that means," the head of the Together for Yes alliance said at the session's start. "Today we don't only open a new parliament—this marks a before and after."
The motion passed by the parliament in its first post-election 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." Separatist lawmakers stood up and applauded the victory, which will likely put them on a collision course with the central government and Spain's highest court. 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. "You want to divide a country by raising a frontier within the European Union," Citizens' regional leader told separatist lawmakers. Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy had previously vowed to take legal action against the Catalan parliament if it were to approve the secession plan; he was scheduled to speak later Monday. (Read more Barcelona stories.)