Catalonia votes to start breakaway process from Spain

Popular Party of Catalonia leader Xavier Garcia Albiol (left) and Catalan deputies during a session at the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona.
Popular Party of Catalonia leader Xavier Garcia Albiol (left) and Catalan deputies during a session at the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona. PHOTO: AFP

MADRID (REUTERS) - Catalonia's regional government on Monday voted in favour of a resolution to split from Spain, launching a so-called roadmap towards independence which the central government in Madrid has vowed to block.

The declaration on secession, the first step which pro-independence parties hope will lead to the northeastern region splitting from Spain within 18 months, was backed by a majority in the regional parliament.

Parties favouring independence from Spain won a majority of seats in the Catalan regional election in September.

The Spanish constitution does not allow any region to break away, however, and the centre-right government of Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy, facing a general election in December, has said it will immediately seek to block the resolution in the courts.