Catalonia's parliament on Wednesday passed a law to make formal its plans for an Oct. 1 referendum on whether to declare independence from Spain, a vote that the central government says is illegal and that it will stop.
A majority of the regional parliament, which is controlled by pro-independence parties, voted in favor of the referendum law and the legal framework needed to set up an independent state.
This move pits the Catalan regional government against the Spanish government as the vote has been ruled illegal by the constitutional courts.
However, the separatists have not had success in the past.
“It’s hard to see any scenario in which independence happens in the near future,” Nicolas Veron, a senior researcher at Brussels-based Bruegel and the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, told Bloomberg. “But you can’t say for sure that the Spanish government will enforce the rule of law.”
The Spanish government has threatened legal action against the political figures in Catalonia involved in the vote, as well as threatened to take away the region’s self-governance which would then put the Catalan police force under Madrid’s rule.
“It’s time to see real concrete measures,” said Jordi Sanchez, head of the Catalan National Assembly, a civic group that has led the campaign for secession. “Unless the Spanish government puts up barriers in front of the parliament, we will have the laws we need.”
Support for independence peaked at 49 percent in 2013, but has fallen since the economy has improved. A poll taken in July found that 41 percent of Catalans favor secession, according to Financial Times.
Per the new laws, Catalan’s parliament would have to declare the region and independent state within 48 hours of a “yes” vote.
This puts Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s prime minister, in the difficult position of trying to make all sides happy under a cloud of terrorist threats.
In August, a suspected Islamic State supporter drove an auto into a crowd on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas killing 13 people and injuring scores of others.
Last December, Berlin suffered a similar attack when a truck plowed into a crowded Christmas market, killing 12.
Reuters contributed to this report.