Three anti-independence parties filed complaints Wednesday before Spain*s Constitutional Court against moves by the regional parliament of Catalonia to announce the formal start of independence from Spain.
Catalan branches of Spain's ruling conservative Popular Party and the Socialist and the Citizens opposition parties filed the appeals, two of them calling on the court to issue a restraining order against the parliament move.
The protest came after secessionist parties used their majority in a Catalan parliament committee to have a secession announcement voted on in the Barcelona-based parliament, most likely Monday.
The motion was pushed by the "Together for Yes'' pro-independence alliance — which won 62 seats in Catalonia's 135-member regional parliament in September elections — along with the radical leftist CUP party that won 10 seats. The two are in talks to form a new regional government but do not appear close to an agreement. The alliance, headed by acting President Artur Mas, pledges Catalan independence by 2017 if it forms a government.
Pro-independence sentiment began to swell four years ago at the height of Spain's economic crisis, with secessionist parties claiming Catalonia could do better on its own.
Observers say the contested motion is illegal because no Spanish regional parliament has the right to hold such a vote. The Spanish government says Catalan independence is impossible because it would violate the Constitution.
Catalonia, a region of 7.5 million people, is responsible for nearly a fifth of Spain's economic output and is proud of its own culture and language.
The motion calls also for the parliament to pass laws within 30 days that would allow the region to push ahead toward creating a separate constitution, social security system and treasury. It also says the process would not be subject to decisions made by the Spanish institutions, including the Constitutional Court.
Most polls show Catalans overwhelmingly support the right for a secession referendum but are roughly evenly divided over independence.