The Latest: Catalan lawmakers debate independence vote

The Latest on the Catalan parliament's vote to pave the way for an independence referendum (all times local):

11:15 a.m.

Opposition lawmakers in Catalonia are contesting a decision by the head of the regional parliament to vote on a bill that paves the way for a controversial independence referendum.

The president of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, called for a recess in Wednesday's parliamentary meeting after heated discussions erupted following a last-minute decision to hold the vote on the so-called "referendum bill."

The referendum, planned for Oct. 1, would not be recognized by Spain's central authorities, who have vowed to use all legal measures to stop it.

Pro-independence Catalan lawmakers, who hold a majority in the regional parliament, want to vote on the bill after a 2-hour window for the opposition to introduce amendments. The opposition argues that the bill should be first vetted by a legal committee because it clashes with Spain's constitutional laws.


9:45 a.m.

Catalan lawmakers are voting on a bill that will allow regional authorities to officially call an Oct. 1 referendum on a split from Spain, making concrete a years-long defiance of central authorities, who see the vote as illegal.

The so-called referendum bill was included at the last minute in the agenda of Wednesday's plenary meeting of the regional parliament, and is likely to be passed by a pro-independence majority later in the day, paving the way to formalize plans for the ballot.

The vote is not recognized by the Spanish government and most political parties at the national level. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has vowed to use all legal measures to ensure that it doesn't take place.

Catalonia is a prosperous region in northeastern Spain that already enjoys ample self-government.