Over 80% of people in Catalonia, an autonomous region of Spain, voted for full independence, according to an informal vote organized by pro-independence activists.
More than two million people took part in the straw poll on Sunday. The region’s politicians present the poll as a prelude to breaking away from Spain, Time reported.
80.7% of votes cast were in favor of independence, according to the preliminary results released by the regional government of Catalonia, with results based on 88% of votes counted as of early Monday. The government estimates that the final turnout will be 2.25 million.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Artur Mas” author_title=”Catalan President”]
We have earned the right to a referendum. Once again Catalonia has shown that it wants to rule itself. I ask the people in the world, I ask the media and I also ask the democratic governments in the world to help the Catalan people decide its political future.
The regional government allowed the straw poll to continue, even after it was ordered to suspend it by the Constitutional Court of Spain. The Catalan government said the court ban could not override the right of 7.5 million citizens and 5.4 million voters in Catalonia to decide whether they want to secede, The New York Times reported.
The vote comes after Scotland voted not to break away from Britain in September. That referendum was authorized by the British government, however. The fight over Catalonia has proven to be more contentious and it has become the greatest challenge for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy since taking office in 2011.
Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catala called the vote a “sterile and useless sham” that only served to heighten political tensions and hide Mas’s “failure” in holding a proper referendum, BBC reported.
Nationalism in the region has been fueled by cultural and economic issues. The wealthy region of Catalonia, with 7.5 million residents, contributes more to the Spanish economy than it receives from the central government.