Catalonia set to hold new referendum on split from Spain

"Speaking economically, there is plenty of research which shows that Catalan federations could have up to €93m annually as an independent state", Gerard Estreva is quoted as saying by Marca.

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

Tensions are running high among Catalan lawmakers as the regional parliament chose to vote on a bill that lays the ground for a controversial referendum on independence from Spain.

Mas is the highest-ranking among Catalan politicians suspended from office and fined by the country's Supreme Court for organizing a non-binding vote on independence in 2014.

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Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court about non-compliance with the court rulings by the Catalan parliament, which on Wednesday started discussing the law on a referendum, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said in a speech broadcast by the 24 Horas television channel Wednesday.

In early June, the president of the autonomous region, Carles Puigdemont, said that Catalonia would hold a referendum on independence from Spain on October 1, 2017, prompting criticism from Madrid.

There will be no minimum turnout requirement to make the result of the referendum binding, Puigdemont said in a recent briefing.

Half of Catalonians support independence from Spain with a month to go before the region hopes to hold a referendum on the issue, according to a poll released Sunday by El Espanol.

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In order to facilitate the law adoption process, the supporters of Catalonia's independence have amended the parliament's standing orders.

Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had asked the court to challenge the law, which will approve a referendum on Catalan independence on October 1, since the law goes against previous rulings. Central authorities have vowed to stop the vote. But the majority of Catalans do want the opportunity to vote on whether to split from Spain. The opposition argues that the bill should be first vetted by a legal committee because it clashes with Spain's constitutional laws. An 80 percent majority backed independence in a symbolic referendum in 2014, which the federal government ruled unconstitutional.

The region has pushed for a legitimate referendum for years.

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.

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Opponents of independence for the wealthy northeastern region of Spain greeted the decision with jeers.