03:20 GMT +3 hours26 November 2014
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Catalan Parliament Approves Independence Referendum

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The Spanish region of Catalonia's Parliament on Thursday night approved the holding of a referendum on independence from the rest of Spain during the forthcoming regional elections on November 25, local media reported.

The Spanish region of Catalonia's Parliament on Thursday night approved the holding of a referendum on independence from the rest of Spain during the forthcoming regional elections on November 25, local media reported.

The independence referendum was voted for by 84 deputies, with 45 voting against. The Socialist Party abstained.

The call for an independence vote was announced on Tuesday at a Catalan government meeting by regional government head Artur Mas. He said he decided a vote on independence must be taken following a meeting with Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who turned down a Catalan proposal to set the amount of tax it pays to national coffers. Catalonia is Spain's richest region and has its own language.

Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the government would use any legal mechanism to prevent Catalonia seceding from Spain.

Catalonia wants the status of a European sovereign nation.

The move toward independence comes as Spain presented an austerity budget this week, in an attempt to shore-up its beleaguered economy. The country has the highest unemployment in the EU at 25 percent, rising to 50 percent among 16-24 year-olds.

The government is due to release the results of an audit into the Spanish banking sector later today, which economists expect to reveal a huge black hole left by toxic real estate assets resulting from a property bubble caused by cheap credit.