Catalonia’s regional government has announced that 90 percent of those who participated in an independence referendum banned by Spain’s central government choose to be separated from the country.
While addressing a press briefing early on Monday, regional government spokesman Jordi Turull announced that 2.02 million Catalans had voted “yes” to the question: “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?.”
‘Catalan won the right to vote’
Earlier, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said that his region “won the right to an independent state” after “millions” took part in the vote.
“With this day of hope and suffering, the citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state in the form a republic,” he said during a televised interview.
He further urged the EU to stop looking “the other way” after police cracked down on the referendum, adding that the move was “unjustified, abusive and serious police violence dictated by the Spanish government.”
According to regional authorities at least 800 people received medical attention in relation to the police’s violent crackdown.
“The Spanish government has today written a shameful page in its history with Catalonia. Sadly it is not the first. Too often repression and violence have been the state’s response to Catalan aspirations,” added Puigdemont.
“I have to call directly on Europe…The European Union can no longer continue to look the other way,” he said.
“The situation that has been generated in Catalonia by intransigence and repression, by the absolute denial of reality, by hostility to the democratic demands of the citizens of our country, is no longer an internal matter,” he added,
“It is a matter of European interest, which appeals directly to the foundational values in the area of peace, freedom, coexistence and democracy that we have been building for decades and with very different accents.”
Spanish PM: Independence referendum was blocked
Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy claimed that the rule of law had prevailed in the region as an independence referendum banned by Madrid had been blocked.
“Today there has not been a self-determination referendum in Catalonia. The rule of law remains in force with all its strength,” he said, adding that security forces had “performed their duty” in preventing the voting from being carried out.
“It would have been easier for everyone to look the other way,” he said.
The vote was “real attack on the rule of law… to which the state reacted with firmness and serenity,” he added.
“We have fulfilled our obligation, we have acted according to the law and only according to the law,” he noted.
Rajoy went on to stress that Catalan’s regional government was to blame for the police’s actions.
“The responsibility for these acts solely and exclusively falls on those who promoted the rupture of legality and coexistence,” he stressed, referring to the referendum as a process that “only served to sow division, push citizens to confrontation and the streets to revolt.”
Catalonia, one of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions, held a symbolic referendum back in November 2014, during which more than 80 percent of participants voted for independence, according to Catalan officials.