MADRID, April 9 (UPI) -- The Spanish parliament rejected a request by the region of Catalonia to hold a referendum on independence from Spain.
After seven hours of debate, the parliament voted 299 to 47, with one abstention, against a motion calling for a referendum to be held in November. The movement to separate the eastern part of Spain led to months of constitutional debate.
Catalonia, whose largest city is Barcelona, already has considerable autonomy, but the recent economic crisis in Spain has accelerated Catalonian nationalism.
Only representatives of the Catalan and Basque national parties voted in favor of the referendum, with the major parties opposing it. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy repeated his argument that the referendum was illegal because, under law, such referenda must be voted on nationally, not locally.
“Together we win, but separate we all lose. I can’t imagine Spain without Catalonia,” he said.
Catalan authorities will hold the referendum nonetheless, and will search for legal methods to continue dialogue on separation, Catalan President Artur Mas said.