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Catalonia passes law for October 1 independence vote

شعار Al Jazeera Al Jazeera 06/09/2017
The measure was passed at Catalonia's parliament with 72 affirmative votes [Albert Gea/Reuters] © Provided by Al Jazeera The measure was passed at Catalonia's parliament with 72 affirmative votes [Albert Gea/Reuters]

Catalonia's parliament has passed a law paving the way for an October 1 referendum on whether to declare independence from Spain - a vote fiercely opposed by the central government in Madrid.

The so-called "referendum bill" was adopted on Wednesday by the regional parliament, which is controlled by pro-independence parties, with 72 votes in favour and 11 abstentions.

Politicians who oppose independence for the wealthy northeastern region of Spain abandoned the chamber before the vote.

OPINION: Why Catalonia should be given a say on its future

If the region pushes through with the referendum, it will move even further on its path towards a collision course with the national government, which has repeatedly argued that any attempt to break away from Spain is illegal and will not be recognised.

The state legislature move is important, as the legal underpinnings for such a referendum have been questioned.

Now that it has been approved legislatively, Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont is expected to sign the measure into law either late on Wednesday or early on Thursday.

However, the Spanish Constitutional Court is already expected to review the law this week and declare it null and void, as it has done with similar attempts in the past.

Should the referendum take place and yield a majority for seceding, supporters say they would move to break away from Spain "within two days".

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy repeated a few days ago that there is no way he would allow the economically important region to break away.

"The Catalonians cannot carry out this referendum as planned because they are not allowed to do so either by the constitution or existing law," he said.

Pro-independence campaigners staged a symbolic ballot, organised by volunteers rather than government officials to get around court restrictions, in 2014, months after Scots voted to stay in the UK.

Some two million people voted in favour of secession in that non-binding ballot, though turnaround was relatively low.

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