People celebrate after the closing of the 'Espai Jove La Fontana' (La Fontana youth center) polling station, on October 1, 2017 in Barcelona.

Spanish riot police stormed voting stations today as they moved to stop Catalonia's independence referendum after it was banned by the central government in Madrid. At least 92 people were confirmed injured as hundreds tried to prevent the polling stations from being closed, Catalan officials said. A total of 465 people were treated at hospitals and health centres, while Spain's interior ministry said 12 police officers were injured.
 / AFP PHOTO / PAU BARRENA
People celebrate after the closing of the 'Espai Jove La Fontana' (La Fontana youth center) polling station, on October 1, 2017 in Barcelona. Spanish riot police stormed voting stations today as they moved to stop Catalonia's independence referendum after it was banned by the central government in Madrid. At least 92 people were confirmed injured as hundreds tried to prevent the polling stations from being closed, Catalan officials said. A total of 465 people were treated at hospitals and health centres, while Spain's interior ministry said 12 police officers were injured. / AFP PHOTO / PAU BARRENA

Barcelona: The Catalonian government has announced that 2.2 million ballots were cast in its independence referendum and 90 per cent of those votes were in favour of the region breaking away from Spain, compared to 7.8 per cent against.

Government spokesman Jordi Turull said the voting held on Sunday was valid despite the Spanish constitutional court declaring it as illegal, reports Efe news.  He said over 2.26 million votes had been tallied even though 400 polling stations had been closed or were occupied by Spanish police who carried away ballot boxes and polling material.

On Sunday night, the regional president, Carles Puigdemont said Catalonia “has won the right to decide its future, its sovereignty”.  He said that in the coming days he would forward the referendum results to the regional Parliament and that if a majority of people voted to secede he would unilaterally proclaim independence for the region.

In a surprise move, the region established a “universal census” that allowed people to vote at any polling station in the region and also permitted them to vote without an envelope and to use home-printed ballots.  The ballot papers contained just one question: “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?”   Given that around 5,313,000 people were eligible to vote and there were 2,262,424 ballot cast, the participation rate was 42 per cent.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who had declared the referendum illegal, said that “there has been no plebiscite on self-determination”.  The intervention of security forces to impede the vote led to over 800 people being injured, according to regional authorities.  Spain’s Interior Ministry said 19 police and 14 Civil Guardsmen were also injured.

Catalonia, a wealthy region 7.5 million people in north-eastern Spain, has its own regional government, or Generalitat, which already has considerable powers over healthcare, education and tax collection, but is not recognised as a separate nation under the Spanish constitution.  Catalonia’s campaign to break away from Spain has gained momentum since 2010, when Spain’s economy plunged during the financial crisis.   Catalonia held a symbolic poll in 2014, in which 80 per cent of voters backed complete secession — but only 32 per cent of the electorate turned out.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in