Europe

Spain's top court blocks Catalan plan to fund secession vote

Spain's Constitutional Court has provisionally blocked plans by the Catalan regional government to finance an independence referendum this year, following a legal challenge by the Spanish government.

Relations between the region and the central government have seriously deteriorated in recent years because of Catalonia's demand to hold an independence vote, contrary to Spain's constitution.

Catalonia says it will hold a binding referendum in September and included provisions for the ballot in its 2017 spending plans presented last month.

A court statement Tuesday said the suspension would initially last five months while it studies the government challenge and makes a ruling.

Polls show the 7.5 million Catalans are evenly divided on independence, but a majority supports a referendum.

The region, whose capital is Barcelona, represents a fifth of Spain's GDP.