Spain rejects Catalonia bid for independence referendum

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Spain rejects Catalonia bid for independence referendum

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Spain’s parliament has overwhelmingly rejected Catalonia’s bid to hold a referendum on independence.

After a seven-hour debate 299 lawmakers voted against, 47 voted for and one abstained.

All the major parties, including the ruling conservative People’s Party (PP), the main opposition group, the Socialists, and the centrist Union for Progress and Democracy (UPyD), voted against the petition.

Catalan and Basque nationalist parties voted in favour.

“As President of the Government I am and I will be everybody’s President,” Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said during the debate.

“I defend the permanence of Catalonia in Spain because I can’t think of Spain without Catalonia and I can’t think of Catalonia outside Spain and outside Europe,” continued Rajoy.

Catalonia President Artur Mas said he would forge ahead with his region’s plans to hold a referendum on independence in November.

“It is not a final full stop,” he said, “it’s a new paragraph and from here, from this painful “no”, Catalonian institutions will look for new legal frameworks, because there are a lot of possible legal frameworks, to celebrate this consultation next November 9 and above all, to give voice and vote to Catalonian people to decide their own political future,” Mas added.

Spain already gives Catalonia powers over its education and health systems and its police.

The referendum is planned two months after an independence vote in Scotland, something Catalonia is watching closely.