Catalonia votes to split from Spain amid violent crackdowns

Madrid [Spain], October 2 : The Catalan government claimed victory early Monday in a contested referendum on independence from Spain.

This was achieved after the Spanish Government forces cracked down at several polling stations multiple times.

The CNN reports that of the 2.2 million ballots counted, about 90 per cent were in favour of independence.

Catalonia has 5.3 million total eligible voters. Turnout would have been higher if not for suppression at the polls by Spanish national police, the CNN quoted the regional government spokesperson, Jordi Turull, as saying in a news conference shortly after midnight.

Hundreds were injured on Sunday as the riot police raided polling stations and fired rubber bullets. Regional officials said more than 800 people were injured. The Spanish Interior Ministry said authorities closed 92 of about 2,300 polling stations; Catalan officials said 319 stations were closed.

Catalonia's separatist government had pushed forward with the vote despite opposition from Madrid and a ruling from the country's top court declaring it illegal.

The vote risks plunging the country into one of its worst political crises since the end of Gen. Francisco Franco's dictatorship in 1975. Catalonia has its own regional government, with considerable powers over healthcare, education and tax collection.

The region has, however, long complained that its revenues subsidise other parts of Spain. Catalan nationalists have always argued that the region is a separate nation with its own history, culture and language, and that it should have increased fiscal independence.

In 2006, the Spanish government backed Catalonia's calls for greater powers. But, four years later, that status was rescinded by the Constitutional Court, which ruled that while Catalan is a "nationality," Catalonia is not a nation itself.

Source: ANI