MADRID, April 8 (Xinhua) -- The Spanish Congress on Tuesday voted against a proposal to allow an independence referendum in the Catalan region in the north-east of the country.
The proposal, which had been presented by the Catalan Regional Parliament, was rejected by an overwhelming majority of 299 to 47 with one abstention.
Addressing Congress during the debate prior to the vote, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy strongly criticized the idea of Catalan independence, saying that he "could not imagine Spain without Catalonia," and the move"was a project for fraction and division."
"It needs more than ballot boxes for an action to be democratic," he added.
Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, the leader of the Socialist (PSOE) Party said Spanish law had to be respected.
"Nobody can call as referendum in one part of the country over something which affects us all," said Rubalcaba.
Catalan President, Artur Mas, who leads the Catalan nationalist party Convergencia I Unio (Convergence and Union), had previously advised he would not attend Congress on Tuesday as he had expected a "No" vote.
Mas announced in December 2013 that the independence referendum would take place on November 9 this year and that the questions to be asked on the ballot paper had already been decided.
Mas insisted last Sunday the referendum would go ahead irrespective of the result of Tuesday's vote.
"If they say no, they will say no to a law, but they can't block the will of the Catalan people," he said.