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Catalonia Defies Spain As Leader Signs Decree For Breakaway Vote

President of Catalonia's regional government Artur Mas acknowledges cheers Saturday after signing a law setting a Nov. 9 vote on independence. At left is the president of the Catalan Parliament, Nuria de Gispert. i

President of Catalonia's regional government Artur Mas acknowledges cheers Saturday after signing a law setting a Nov. 9 vote on independence. At left is the president of the Catalan Parliament, Nuria de Gispert. Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images
President of Catalonia's regional government Artur Mas acknowledges cheers Saturday after signing a law setting a Nov. 9 vote on independence. At left is the president of the Catalan Parliament, Nuria de Gispert.

President of Catalonia's regional government Artur Mas acknowledges cheers Saturday after signing a law setting a Nov. 9 vote on independence. At left is the president of the Catalan Parliament, Nuria de Gispert.

Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

One week after the Catalan parliament gave him the power to do so, Catalonia's leader is calling for a vote in the northeast region of Spain on whether it should become independent. The vote is set for November 9, but Spain's central government has said it won't let the vote occur.

Catalonia has already launched a website for the independence vote, referring to it with the shorthand 9N. The website includes a sample ballot that asks two questions: Should Catalonia be a state, and should that state be independent?

From Madrid, NPR's Lauren Frayer reports:

"With the Catalan president's signature, the room of dignitaries erupted into applause. And so did the streets of the Catalan capital, Barcelona. Catalonia's leader Artur Mas has officially set a Nov. 9 vote on secession from Spain.

"But the Spanish constitution says the country's unity is indivisible, and that no region can opt out of that. Police could block polling stations. The Catalan president nevertheless says voting is a democratic right.

" 'And we know,' Mas said, 'that democracy is the most civilized way to resolve difficulties between nations.'

"Spain's prime minister has called an emergency Cabinet meeting to decide how to proceed."

In Madrid, Spain's central government is expected to challenge both the independence vote and the parliamentary action that authorized it, by filing appeals in the country's Constitutional Court.

After authorizing the vote today, Mas directed some of his remarks at citizens elsewhere in Spain, urging them to visit the Catalan region to get a sense of the people's wishes. According to Euronews, he also said:

"We want to vote, we want to decide and now we have the framework and the right time. I am going to take advantage of this moment to address all Spanish people: the fraternal ties that bind us to the rest of the people of Spain are intense and deep. We have a great history in common, a history that will continue with the will to build together the Europe of the 21st century."

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