Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has accused Catalan separatists of working to destroy centuries of Spanish unity and vowed not to allow them to succeed.
Speaking after the government filed a challenge against a Catalan regional parliament decision to set up a road map for independence by 2017, Mr Rajoy said the Catalan move was an attack on Spain’s sovereignty and democracy.
“We’re talking about the defence of an entire country,” he said. “They are trying to liquidate the unity of a nation with more than five centuries of history.”
The government called on the Constitutional Court to suspend the Catalan resolution while it is being studied and warn Catalan officials against taking any further secessionist steps.
The secession resolution authorised the economically powerful region’s incoming government to begin work on a Catalan constitution and on establishing tax-collecting and social security systems.
It also exempts the regional administration from having to heed Spanish institutions, including the Constitutional Court.
However, public officials who refuse to comply with a possible court order against the resolution could potentially face charges of disobedience, which is punishable by removal from office for up to two years and heavy fines, said Elena Inigo, a professor of criminal law at the University of Navarra.
Monday’s resolution was pushed through by the pro-independence “Together for Yes” alliance and the far-left CUP group, which between them won 72 seats in the 135-deputy regional parliament in elections.