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Catalonia Lawmakers Approve New Independence Effort

FILE - F.C Barcelona supporters wave Estelada or pro-independence flags. Catalonian lawmakers are due to vote on a measure to begin a secession process on Monday.

Lawmakers in Spain's northeastern Catalonia region approved a measure Monday for a renewed effort to seek independence.

A majority in the regional parliament backed the plan to launch a roadmap put forth by the Together for Yes coalition and leftist CUP party, which together control 72 of 135 seats. They hope the process will lead to secession within 18 months.

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy promised last month to use "all political and legal means" to stop an independence push, including taking the matter to the country's Constitutional Court. He called desires for Catalonia to break away "an act of provocation."

Catalonia is an autonomous region of 7.5 million people that accounts for about 20 percent of Spain's economic output.

The independence movement there is more than a century old, but gained momentum several years ago with Spain's economic crisis. A year ago, the region held a referendum on independence that the government dismissed as invalid. About 80 percent of those who voted supported independence.