Catalan leader wins regional backing for independence vote

President of the Catalan regional Government Carles Puigdemont gestures during a debate on the government's question of confidence at the Parliament of Catalonia in Barcelona on September 29, 2016Catalan regional lawmakers on Thursday approved regional President Carles Puigdemont’s plans to call a referendum next year on independence from Spain, which has been without a fully functioning government since December. Puigdemont called the vote of confidence in his government and its plans after his pro-independence coalition that rules Catalonia broke down in June when its most radical component — the far-left CUP party — refused to back the government budget for 2016. In an address to the Catalan regional parliament on Wednesday on the eve of the vote, Puigdemont said he would hold an independence referendum in September 2017 whether or not the central government in Madrid agrees to one.

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