Catalonia's bid for independence was dealt a fresh blow after the referendum vote was blocked
The Madrid-based Constitutional Court claimed the independence bid was “unconstitutional”, cancelling the resolution outright.
The decision is likely to fuel tensions between the Spanish and Catalan governments, with relations already strained after the region’s former president, Artur Mas, stood trial last week charged with civil disobedience and misconduct after his attempts to push an independence vote through.
The Catalan parliament, which has a majority of separatist lawmakers, adopted the resolution in October last year amid plans to hold a referendum in September.
However, the Spanish Constitutional Court suspended the resolution in December and cancelled it today, leaving independence hopes in tatters.
Mr Mas had previously tried to hold a similar referendum which was also banned, and the former Catalan president countered by calling a symbolic, non-binding independence vote, which was also stopped by the court.
Former president Artur Mas (2nd L) alongside his successor Carles Puigdemont (C) in court last week
Despite the court’s block Mr Mas went ahead with the symbolic vote anyway in November 2014, with more than 80 per cent of the 2.3 million voters opting for independence – although only a small proportion of the 6.3 million eligible voters took part.
Mr Mas’ move resulted in the charges he is now on trial for, with prosecutors pushing for the former president to be banned from public office for 10 years if he is found guilty.
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Last week, more than 40,000 people took to the streets of Barcelona to support of Mr Mas as he walked to the courthouse for the start of his high-profile trial.
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Following the initial hearing, Mr Mas told the crowd: “Thank you for your support, affection, convictions, ideals, for always standing up to defend Catalonia.”
Mr Mas and Mr Puigdemont have long supported independence for Catalonia
Catalans have pushed for greater autonomy for years, and residents of the northeastern region have criticised the high taxes they are obliged to pay to subsidise poorer areas of Spain.
The region has a proud individual culture, with a different language and customs from the rest of the country.
Calls for independence have increased in recent years with the wealthy region, which accounts for almost a fifth of Spain’s economic output, keen to breakaway from prime minister Mariano Rajoy and the Spanish political establishment.
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