Friday 6 December 2019

Catalonia plots next move after vote to go it alone

A pro-Catalan independence flag (R) known as the
A pro-Catalan independence flag (R) known as the "Estelada" hangs from a balcony in central Barcelona as Catalonia participates in a symbolic independence vote. Hundreds of thousands of Catalans voted on Sunday in a symbolic vote on independence from Spain that supporters hope will propel the issue further despite opposition from Madrid. The "consultation of citizens" in the wealthy northeastern region follows a legal block by the central government against a more formal, albeit still non-binding ballot which regional leaders had been pushing for. Photo credit: REUTERS/Paul Hanna

Harold Heckle

CATALONIA was plotting its next step yesterday a day after a non-binding vote on secession from Spain showed strong support for breaking away.

The Catalonia region's president was riding a wave of enthusiasm among independence seekers.

Last night, Artur Mas received an ovation from jubilant government workers as he returned to his party headquarters to analyse the results of the unofficial referendum.

"Catalonia wants to decide its own future," regional government spokesman Francesc Homs said.

Unhappy at Spain's refusal to give the wealthy region more autonomy and fiscal powers, Catalan politicians have been pushing for a referendum for months.

Catalonia's secessionist moves follow Scotland's recent independence vote which kept it part of Britain.

Regional authorities said 2.3 million Catalans had voted, with 80pc opting to break away. While no official turnout figures were given, it appeared Sunday's turnout was much lower than in recent elections.

Elsewhere, there was scepticism over the vote.

UNDEMOCRATIC

"It is totally undemocratic," church cleaner Carmen Santos said in Madrid. "They haven't asked all Spaniards."

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had described the vote as "neither a referendum nor a consultation" because it had no legal weight.

Mr Mas opted for an unofficial consultation after parliament, where Mr Rajoy's Popular Party has a majority, rejected his call for a referendum and Spain's judiciary concurred.

Speaking in London, British Prime Minister David Cameron said "we want Spain to stay united, to stay together".

Mr Cameron said that referendums "should be done through the proper constitutional and legal frameworks."

British and Scottish authorities agreed beforehand on the framework and rules for Scotland's September independence referendum, and both sides agreed to respect the result.

Irish Independent

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