The leader of Spain’s Catalonia region said on Friday he would defy Madrid to hold a non-binding independence vote in less than two months, saying his people deserved the same right to determine their future as Scots who voted to stay in Britain.
With its own language and culture, and a long-standing pro-independence movement that has gathered momentum in recent years of economic hardship, Catalonia has sought a referendum on independence similar to the one held in Scotland on Thursday.
Unlike London, which allowed the Scottish vote, Madrid says even a non-binding referendum would violate the Spanish constitution and has pledged to block it in the courts.
Spanish political leaders, including centre-right Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Socialist opposition leader Pedro Sanchez, hailed the Scottish “no” vote and said the outcome demonstrated the value of unity for Spain.
The government opened the door on Friday to revising how Spanish regions are financed but said any such move would not be linked to the Catalan independence movement.
Catalan leader Arturo Mas denied that the Scottish rejection of independence had hurt the Catalan secessionist cause.
“What happened in Scotland is not a setback for us, because what we really want in Catalonia is to have the chance to vote,” Mas said.
The Catalan regional government was due to pass a bill later on Friday giving Mas the power to call a non-binding referendum. Mas said he would sign it and would hold the vote on Nov 9.
Madrid’s refusal to grant a referendum has angered many Catalans, even some who favour continued union with Spain.
Hundreds of thousands of people marched last week in the streets of Barcelona for the right to hold a referendum. Polls show around 80 percent of people in the region of 7.5 million want a say on secession.