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21st May 2022

Catalonia: 1.6mn vote for independent state

Over 1.6 million Catalans voted in favour of independence on Sunday (9 November) in an informal poll.

More than 80 percent of the 2 million people that cast a vote in the consultation, answered Yes to both questions: “Do you want Catalonia to be a state? If so, do you want this state to be independent?”.

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  • The vote looked official, but was non-binding and dubbed illegal by Spanish courts (Photo: Jordi Boixareu)

Another 10 percent said they wanted Catalonia to be a state but remain part of Spain, while 4.5 percent voted No to both questions.

But the vote was non-binding after Spain's constitutional court forbade Catalonia to hold a formal referendum.

Sunday's vote was also illicit after the court calls for its suspension pending an analysis on whether it breached the Spanish constitution.

Meanwhile, many Catalans who are against independence stayed at home, and there was no coherent No campaign.

With a turnout of 2 million people, the vote shows a substantial portion of the Catalans had the will to express themselves on the future of their region.

Because the vote was informal, it is difficult to determine what the official voter turnout percentage will be. But Spanish daily El Pais estimated 32.8 percent.

The result of the poll will strengthen the independence movement in Catalonia and the call for an official referendum down the line.

Catalan president Artur Mas called the vote a “success” and said the independence movement made a “giant step” towards a binding referendum.

The result shows “Catalonia wants to govern itself”, he noted, according to Spanish media.

He announced that he will explain on Tuesday (11 November) what next steps the movement will take. He also called on Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy to organise a referendum.

At the same time in Madrid, justice minister Rafael Catala called Sunday's vote “useless”.

“The government considers this to be a day of political propaganda organised by pro-independence forces and devoid of any kind of democratic validity”, he said in a statement.

The European Commission, for its part, said the vote was an internal matter. “It is not the role of the commission to express an opinion” on the poll, said spokesperson Margaritas Schinas.

The vote was organised by about 40,000 volunteers.

It came after the recently-held independence referendum in Scotland which saw Scots choose to remain part of the UK.

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