Leaders in Catalonia enraged by tab for independence vote

A pro-independence flag flies in a street in Girona

A pro-independence flag flies in a street in Girona

The decree authorizes the formation of an electoral board to make preparations for the vote.

Catalan lawmakers vote in favour of laws approving a referendum and legal framework to set up an independent state in northeastern Spain.

. The source asked not to be named in line with internal protocols.

Under the terms of the new laws, the Catalan Parliament will declare independence within 48 hours of a "yes" vote.

She blasted the regional assembly's agreement to quickly vote on the bill as an "act of force" that is characteristic of "dictatorial regimes".

Regional President Carles Puigdemont, said his cabinet would push forward with the binding referendum despite the Spanish government's fierce opposition.

The bill was submitted to the parliament outside of its normal schedule which prompted criticism from opposition parties.

Spain's Court of Auditors ruled Tuesday that the officials should repay as bail the public funds it cost to hold the 2014 vote that the country's Supreme Court had deemed unconstitutional.

However, the Spanish Constitutional Court is likely to strike down this law, just as it has with other laws passed in the Catalan parliament related to the independence referendum.

"What is happening in the Catalan parliament is embarrassing, it's shameful", Saenz de Santamaria told reporters in Madrid.

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The decision has plunged Spain into a national crisis only three weeks after jihadist attacks on the heart of Catalonia left 16 people dead and more than 100 others wounded.

Lawmakers who opposed independence abandoned the chamber before the vote, with some leaving Catalan flags in their empty seats.

The cabinet of Catalan President Carles Puigdemont was expected to immediately sign a decree setting the vote for October 1 and opening a deep political and institutional crisis. Central authorities have vowed to stop the vote.

The vote on the bill is expected later Wednesday. "They [the supporters of Catalonia's independence] have demonstrated that they do not respect either Catalonia or the Catalans", Santamaria said. Just 4.2 percent declined to pick a side ahead of the planned october 1 referendum. But the majority of Catalans do want the opportunity to vote on whether to split from Spain.

The region has pushed for a legitimate referendum for years.

The vote in parliament is expected to ratify the bill late on Wednesday as the government has a majority made up of the separatist Junts pel Si (Together for Yes) coalition and the left-wing CUP party.

In 2014, months after Scotland voted to stay in the United Kingdom, pro-independence campaigners staged a symbolic ballot, organised by volunteers rather than government officials to get around court restrictions.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called on Spain's constitutional court to nullify the bill the moment it was agreed.

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