With 90% approval, Catalonia has ‘earned the right’ to be independent, top official says
Catalonia’s leader opened the door to declaring independence late Sunday after early election results shows overwhelming support for secession from Spain.
“On this day of hope and suffering, Catalonia’s citizens have earned the right to have an independent state in the form of a republic,” Carles Puigdemont said in a televised address. “My government, in the next few days will send the results of today’s vote to the Catalan Parliament, where the sovereignty of our people lies, so that it can act in accordance with the law of the referendum.”
Read: Chaos, violent clashes after Catalans go to the polls in vote that could split Spain
Catalan officials said preliminary results of Sunday’s referendum, which was marred by violent clashes between voters and national police, showed 90% support for independence. But low turnout may lead some to question the election’s legitimacy. Only about 42% of the region’s 5.3 million voters cast ballots, according to Reuters. Many opposed to secession — or the election itself — boycotted the referendum.
Puigdemont said the election results would be passed along to the Catalan parliament, in which separatists have a majority and a declaration of independence could be declared within days. Before the election, Puigdemont said that if the “yes” vote won, independence could be declared within 48 hours.
The election, which had been banned by the government in Madrid, sparked a violent crackdown earlier in the day as national police tried to keep people from polling stations, with more than 800 people reported injured.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dismissed the election in a televised address late Sunday, citing the low turnout, and defended the violent response by police.
“It would have been easier for everyone to turn a blind eye while they carried out a serious attack on our democracy,” Rajoy said. “We did what we had to do.”