Catalonia’s nationalist government vowed to pursue its secession drive after over two million people voted Sunday in a symbolic independence referendum which Spain’s central government dismissed it as “useless”, Agence France-Presse reported.
Catalan government head Artur Mas called the vote, not sanctioned by Madrid, “a total success” after a large majority of those who took part supported independence, the report said.
The vote “made it very clear that we want to govern ourselves,” Mas was quoted as saying.
Voters were asked for their response to two questions. The first was: “Do you want Catalonia to be a state?” If answered affirmatively, the ballot paper posed a second question: “Do you want that state to be independent?”
Partial results showed 80.7 percent of the roughly two million people who took part in the vote voted yes to both questions while just over 10 percent voted yes for the first question and no for the second, Catalan vice president Joana Ortega told a news conference. About 4.5 percent voted no to both questions.
There was no official electoral roll but the regional government said 5.4 million Catalans and resident foreigners aged 16 were eligible to vote in the referendum which was organized by thousands of volunteers.
Catalan leaders admit the vote has no direct legal consequences, but hope the high turnout will bolster their political case with both Madrid and other European governments.
Mas said his government would now push to hold an official referendum and would seek international support to help convince the Spanish government to let it go ahead.
“We deserve to vote in a legal and binding referendum and this is what we are going to try to do,” he said.
Grassroots independence groups that have pushed for an official referendum, collected signatures at polling stations on a petition that will be sent to the United Nations and the European Commission asking for their help to convince Spain to let Catalonia hold an official referendum, the report said.
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