Votes Are In: Catalonia Wants Independence From Spain

An unofficial vote on independence for Catalonia, the northeastern Spanish region, has shown that more than 80 percent of votes are in favor, BBC News reports. More than two million people went out to cast their votes out of an estimated 5.4 million eligible voters, with the final total likely to hit 2,250,000, deputy premier Joana Ortega said.

Ortega announced that 80.72 percent of votes had selected yes to the two questions asked: “Do you want Catalonia to be a state?” and “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state?” Just over 10 percent voted yes for the first question and no for the second—about 4.5 percent voted no to both questions. Opinion polls suggest that near half of all votes are in favor of full independence.

The non-binding vote went forward following Spain’s constitutional court’s ruling out of a formal referendum in the autonomous region. Catalan politician and President of the Generalitat de Catalunya Artur Mas declared the symbolic poll “a great success” with hopes that it will finally mark the beginning to a formal vote.

“We have earned the right to a referendum,” he said in celebration to a joyous crowd. “Once again Catalonia has shown that it wants to rule itself.”

“I ask the people in the world, I ask the media and I also ask the democratic governments in the world to help the Catalan people decide its political future,” he added, referring to the Spanish government’s fierce opposition to the vote.

Meanwhile, Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catala disregarded the measure as “a sterile and useless sham,” created to worsen the divisions between Catalans and intensify political tensions.

“The government considers this to be a day of political propaganda organized by pro-independence forces and devoid of any kind of democratic validity,” he said in a statement, while accusing Artur Mas of pushing forward with the vote as a way to “hide his failure” in securing a proper referendum.

Spanish opposition Socialist chief Pedro Sanchez was more appeasing, hailing that the ballot insinuated the coming of a new age for Spain and Catalonia, both “at the vanguard of change.”