Around 654 mayors in the Spanish regional state of Catalonia have signed a decree, agreeing to push ahead with a vote on independence. Only local leaders in Barcelona and six other municipalities have refused to sign. Together, the municipalities are home to around 40% of the Catalonian population. The decree flies in the face of both the central Spanish government in Madrid, as well as regional President Carles Puigdemont’s efforts to organise a vote. Catalonia braces for

On Wednesday, the Catalan parliament, which is controlled by pro-independence parties, approved legislation for the vote. However, on Thursday the Spanish Constitutional Court suspended the regional government’s referendum bill. It said it would hear an appeal by the Spanish government, warning officials of their duty to comply with its decision. In the past, the Court has ruled that referendums can only be called by the central government.

Spain’s central government, meanwhile, is not amused. The Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy called the bill:

an intolerable act of disobedience. There won’t be a self-determination referendum. I will do whatever is needed, without relinquishing anything, to prevent it.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office announced it was launching criminal actions against the Catalan cabinet and regional lawmakers involved in processing the referendum bill.

Read moreCatalonia braces for ‘illegal’ independence vote, Central Spanish Public Prosecutor to sue Catalonian cabinet