Madrid: A Scottish-style independence referendum sought by Catalonia planned for Novemebr, has been suspended by Spain's Constitutional Court as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy slammed the decree calling it an affront to the country's "sovereignty".
The Catalonians, apparently inspired hugely by Scotland's independence campaign, are now pushing for a similar vote and a referendum decree was signed by Catalan leader Artur Mas on Saturday.
However, Spanish central government branded the vote as unconstitutional and clamped a legal case against it in the court.
Acting on the request by Spain's central government, the court has decided to hear the government's case, thus automatically blocking the November 9 vote, at least for now as the court's process of considering arguments may take months, even years.
Decrying the referendum decree, Spain's Prime Minister said that not just a group of people could get a right to vote on an issue like sovereignty that affected all Spaniards.
Speaking in a televised statement after an an emergency cabinet meeting on Monday morning, Rajoy said that the vote was gravely “anti-democratic"
"I regret the referendum as it's illegal, beyond democratic law, divides Catalans, distances them from Europe and the rest of Spain," Rajoy told reporters.
"Nobody and nothing will be allowed to break up Spain," PM added.
"Not to mention the frustration it causes to a large part of the Catalan people by encouraging them to participate in an initiative that, because it's illegal, won't see the light of day,”the Reuters quoted him as saying.
Catalonia, a rich portion in Spain's north east, accounts for 20 percent of Spain's economy and has been seeking autonomy for long, but what ignited the spark again was Scottish vote.
Rajoy had also spoken against the Scottish referendum and celebrated the result of the vote that went in the favour of being with the United Kingdom.
According to polls, a large majority of Catalans want to hold a referendum.