Parliament: 'Catalonia is a sovereign entity'
The motion has been backed by the ruling Convergència i Unió party (a coalition of Christian Democrats and Liberals) the Republican Left (Left leaning opposition leaders) and ICV-EUiA (former communists and Greens). One of the members of the anti-capitalist CUP also voted Yes, while two others not.
The declaration has been opposed by the conservative Popular Party (PP), which holds an absolute majority in Madrid´s parliament, and by the opposition Socialists. But one of every four socialists MPs refused to vote against the Declaration opening a major crisis inside the party.
The next step for Catalonia in the referendum process will be to form a National Transition Council which will conduct research and advise on the route towards independence.
Polls show an overwhelming majority in Catalonia want a referendum on independence, highlighting increasing dissatisfaction with Spain's government as it struggles with economic crisis. A survey last November by the Catalan government's polling center showed 57% of Catalans would vote for independence, a 6 percentage-point increase from last June and a 14 percentage-point increase from mid-2011.
A referendum has been rejected by Madrid, which says it would be against the constitution, introduced in 1978 to underpin Spain's transition to democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco.