A big crowd of independence supporters gathered outside the regional parliament in Barcelona, shouting "Liberty" in Catalan and singing traditional songs as the independence vote went through.
The Catalan government rejects the move and there is speculation the regional parliament may actually take the step of declaring independence from Spain later Friday. During a secret vote in Barcelona, 70 Catalan lawmakers voted in favour of independence from Spain, 10 voted against the proposal, while two cast blank ballots.
Rajoy said he had "no alternative" in a speech given before the vote Friday, slamming the actions of Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.
Urging calm, Mr Rajoy said: "Spain is a serious country, it is a great nation and we are not prepared in any way to allow some people to liquidate our constitution".
He added: "We want to build a society in the same line was we have always been..." The vote to leave Spain comes as Madrid is preparing to enact a never-before-used provision in the Spanish constitution that will allow it to take direct control of the autonomous region. Rajoy, insisting that Catalonia was acting outside of the law, persistently refused Puigdemont's calls for "dialogue".
"You still have time to return to legality and call elections", Ines Arrimadas, regional leader of the anti-independence Ciudadanos party, said in parliament.
Catalan separatist legislators have passed a motion to establish a new republic independent of Spain, in a vote boycotted by opposition members. Outside, thousands of pro-independence Catalans cheered as the results were announced.
"I ask for calm from all Spaniards".
Fears for Catalonia's economy have increased as uncertainty persists over the independence d*rive, with some 1,600 companies already having moved their legal headquarters out of the region.
The President of the European Council Donald Tusk has claimed that "Spain will remain the EU's only interlocutor", thus reiterating the bloc's firm position on the Catalan referendum. Spain remains our only interlocutor.
What happens if Catalan police forces resist the removal of the regional government? It has been pursuing a clampdown since an October 1 referendum, deemed illegal by Spain's government, showed support for a split among Catalans. But in Madrid, Spain's Senate meets to approve the government's plans and set the intervention in motion.
Catalonia accounts for about 16 percent of Spain's population and a fifth of its economic output.
Though 90 percent of voters were in favor of independence, just 42 percent of eligible voters showed up to the polls.
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