Catalan parliament votes to secede from Spain

Catalan leader Artur Mas (centre) leaves the regional parliament after deputies voted to secede from the rest of Spain by 2017Lawmakers in officially kicked off a process to secede from Spain by 2017 despite impassioned pleas against independence, in an unprecedented showdown with Madrid’s central government. All 72 pro-independence lawmakers — the majority in the regional parliament — voted for a resolution to secede from the rest of the country, drawing huge applause that drowned out opposition MPs holding Spanish flags. Catalonia’s independence movement is an increasingly prickly thorn in the side of conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is facing a general election next month and had vowed to go straight to the Constitutional Court if the resolution was passed.

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