BARCELONA, April 8 (RIA Novosti) – The independence process in Catalonia will take another step forward on Tuesday when the Spanish Parliament will decide on whether the region should be allowed to hold a referendum.
Catalonia’s strive for independency is justified by its history. The region became part of Spain in the 15th century, following the dynastic union of the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon. For some time, the region retained its traditional institutions and functioned as autonomously, but was later integrated into the Spanish state.
Catalan separatism nevertheless remained alive and by the end of the 19th century it turned into a large-scale movement for autonomy. By 1913, Catalonia had won a slight degree of home rule, but it was later repealed by army leader Primo de Rivera, who took control of Spain in the 1920s.
In September 1977, the region received limited autonomy, which was expanded in 1979 with the establishment of the autonomous community of Catalonia.
In recent years, Catalonia has seen a string of protests calling for independence. In September 2012, hundreds of thousands of Catalans took to the streets in central Barcelona to demand independence.
Late last year, the Government of Catalonia announced that a referendum on independence will be held on November 9, 2014. The move was immediately condemned by the Spanish Government, which threatened to disrupt the vote.
Catalonia accounts for a fifth of Spain’s economic output and many pro-referendum supporters say that breaking with the rest of Spain will grant more economic privileges for residents of the region.
At the same time, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy claims Catalonia’s independence will be detrimental for both the regional and national economies. He insists that the referendum is unconstitutional as any referendum affecting Spain should be held on a national and not regional level.
Spain's Constitutional Tribunal has also ruled that an independence referendum would be in violation of the country’s constitution.
Despite facing fierce resistance on the part of Spanish authorities, the Catalan president has vowed to keep struggling for his people’s free will and push ahead with the referendum.
According to a recent poll, about half of Catalonia’s 7.5 million population would vote for independence.