Catalonia gets ready to accelerate independence after ballot

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MADRID (AP) — Catalonia's Parliament has approved procedural changes that will fast-track a declaration of independence if the region's voters choose to secede from Spain in an Oct. 1 referendum the Spanish government maintains is illegal.

The new procedure allowing the wealthy region to declare independence within 48 hours of the referendum's passage deepens the tension between Barcelona authorities and the central government in Madrid.

Catalan lawmakers approved the change on a 72-63 vote Wednesday.

The Spanish government has challenged in Spain's Constitutional Court nearly every step toward independence taken by the Catalan government and has succeeded in blocking most of them. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government made no immediate comment.

Catalonia and Spain have been at loggerheads for years because of the regional government's plans to hold a secession vote.

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