Catalan Parliament declares independence from Spain

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The Catalan parliament has voted to declare independence from Spain, just as Madrid looks poised to impose direct rule.

Today the parliament passed a motion saying it will establish an independent Catalan Republic.

Supporters of an independence for Catalonia listen to Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, right, Picture: Getty

Supporters of an independence for Catalonia listen to Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, right, Picture: Getty

Pro-independence legislators erupted in applause as the vote was approved with 70 votes in favour, 10 against and two blank ballots.

READ MORE: Catalan separatists have ‘no option’ but independence declaration

Most opposition members had left the chamber in protest moments before the vote.

The motion calls for beginning an independence process that includes drafting Catalonia’s new top laws and opening negotiations “on equal footing” with Spanish authorities to establish co-operation.

On Wednesday Catalonia’s vice president said Spanish authorities are giving separatists “no other option” but to push ahead with proclaiming a new republic.

Oriol Junqueras said his party - one of two in the ruling separatist Catalan coalition- is “going to work towards building a republic, because there is a democratic mandate to establish such a republic”.

The country’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy appealing for calm moments after the declaration was made.

He tweeted: ““I ask for calm from all Spaniards. The rule of law will restore legality in Catalonia.”

However, he later fired the Catalan government as part of emergency measures the Senate approved following the region’s declaration of independence.

Mr Rajoy said he is dissolving the Catalan parliament and calling for a new regional election on 21 December.

He was speaking after a special Cabinet meeting to discuss what measures to take in the wake of the Catalan parliament’s announcement of secession earlier on Friday.

The firing of the regional leaders is likely to meet with fierce opposition in Catalonia, where thousands have been celebrating the independence declaration.

The Spanish government has been authorised to dismiss the regional government and curtail the Catalan parliament’s powers.

Mr Rajoy said he is also firing the head of the Catalan regional police, shutting down Catalonia’s foreign affairs department and dismissing its delegates in Brussels and Madrid.

He said “we never wanted to come to this point” and the aim is “to return (Catalonia) to normality and legality as soon as possible”.

READ MORE: Ayesha Hazarika: Catalonia is a minefield for Nicola Sturgeon