Just over a month after pro-independence political parties won an absolute majority in Catalonia’s regional parliament, lawmakers in the Barcelona-based assembly voted in favor of starting a formal secession process from Spain. The resolution -- backed by Catalan Junts pel Si (Together for Yes) and Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) parties -- was passed with 72 votes in favor to 63 against, according to media reports.

The resolution calls on the assembly to start working on legislation within 30 days to create a separate social security system and treasury, with the aim of securing complete independence from Spain as early as 2017.

The move comes just days after the Spanish government dismissed secessionist proposals, terming them an act of provocation that were “contrary to the constitution, the law, the feelings of the majority of Catalans and the democratic will of Spaniards.”

“Those who want to separate and divide Catalonia from Spain should know that they will not achieve this,” Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said, in a televised address late last month.

Catalonia, a region in northeastern Spain that is home to approximately 7.5 million people, currently accounts for a fifth of Spain’s economic output. While demands for independence and greater autonomy have been made for years -- citing linguistic and cultural differences -- these calls have intensified in recent years, in tandem with the country’s economic crisis that has left huge chunks of the region’s population unemployed.

In an unofficial, non-binding referendum held last year, Catalonia defied fierce opposition from Madrid and pressed ahead with a vote. Catalan officials say more than 80 percent of those who voted backed independence.

“There is a growing cry for Catalonia to not merely be a country, but to be a state with everything that means,” Raul Romeva, head of the “Together for Yes” alliance, reportedly said, at the start of the session Monday. “Today we don’t only open a new parliament, but mark a before and after.”