- *TURNOUT IN CATALAN BALLOT 2 MILLION AS OF 6PM, GOVT SAYS
- *RAJOY'S SPOKESMAN SAYS MAS'S ATTITUDE NOT HELPFUL FOR TALKS
- *RAJOY'S SPOKESMAN SAYS CATALAN TURNOUT DATA NOT VALID
With well over 1 million Catalonians already voted by the middle of the day, Catalonia's 'illegal-in-the-eyes-of-the-Spanish-government' vote for secession appears to have garnered more relative public support than Americans who voted for real this week. As threats from Rajoy and the Spanish government grow louder, the Catalan president Artur Mas rather sarcastically noted "we're running a high-quality democracy here," adding that "it has been difficult to get to this point... which is incredible in a democracy." The government has decried the use of public buildings for the vote, but Mas exclaims, "if they want to know who’s responsible for opening up the schools, they should look at me. I’m responsible. My government and me." Results are not due until Monday morning but opinion polls show at least 80% support an official vote and 50% in favor of full independence for the region that represents over 20% of Spain's GDP. As yet no signs of any military presence, other than vehicles moved into the region last week.
Catalonia's government said more than a million voters participated Sunday in an informal vote on whether the wealthy northeastern region should secede from the rest of Spain.
The regional Catalan government pushed forward with the vote despite Spain's Constitutional Court ordering its suspension on Tuesday after it agreed to hear the Spanish government's challenge that the poll is unconstitutional.
The Catalan government said that over 1.1 million of the 5.4 million eligible voters had voted by 1300 local time at polling stations manned with more than 40,000 volunteers. Results are expected Monday morning.
"Despite the enormous impediments, we have been able to get out the ballot boxes and vote," regional president Artur Mas said after depositing his ballot at a school in Barcelona.
The ballot asks voters two questions: should Catalonia be a state, and if so, should it be independent.
Polls show that the majority of Catalonia's 7.5 million inhabitants want an official vote on independence, while around half support breaking centuries-old ties with Spain.
Catalan President Artur Mas spoke to reporters, as Bloomberg notes, after he cast his vote...
“If they want to know who’s responsible for opening up the schools, they should look at me. I’m responsible. My government and me”
“We are running a high-quality democracy”
“The next step will be to try to convince Madrid that we need a real referendum with all the political consequences. If they don’t listen, then we will go ahead”
“It has been very difficult to get to this point. That’s incredible in a democracy”
But as Reuters reports, this vote says a lot more about the roiling tensions in Europe than anything else...
A long-standing breakaway movement in Catalonia, which accounts for one-fifth of Spain's economic output and has its own distinct culture and language, grew in strength during the recent years of deep recession.
Opinion polls show that as many as 80 percent of Catalans back voting on the issue of Catalonia's status, with about 50 percent in favor of full independence.
"If they don't understand us, they should respect us and each of us go on their separate way," said Angels Costa, a 52-year-old shopkeeper who voted in Barcelona.
"We would have liked to have been a federal state but that is no longer possible. They've trampled on us too much."
"It's clear that this consultation ... does not give us the democratic mandate we would have in an election, but what's important is that it is a fresh demonstration of the fact people want to vote, that they are keen to voice their opinion."
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Some images of the turnout for the 'mock' independence vote...
Photo of the Year 2014 - Catalonia's independence vote. pic.twitter.com/bzagXVQTLO— Otto Ozols (@OttoOzols) November 9, 2014
La culpa de q no haya nadie votando es de la previsión del tiempo de tomas molina! pic.twitter.com/OibhKVidAP— Maxwell (@Agentsecret086) November 9, 2014
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It would appear the Catalonians care more about a vote that, theoretically changes nothing, than Americans who turned out in un-droves to vote for real this week.