[WATCH] Police officers moved to tears - 90% vote in favour of independence from Spain

According to Catalan officials, the preliminary results of its referendum, have shown that 90% are in favour of independence, in the vote vehemently opposed by Spain

2 October 2017, 8:54am
90% of the 2.26 million Catalans who voted chose independence from Spain (Photo: CBC)
90% of the 2.26 million Catalans who voted chose independence from Spain (Photo: CBC)
Catalan regional government spokesman, Jordi Turull, told reporters early on Monday morning, that 90% of the 2.26 million Catalans who voted on Sunday chose yes, nearly 8% of voters rejected independence and the rest of the ballots were blank or void.

Turull went on to say that 15,000 votes were still being counted, in a region, which has 5.3 million registered voters.

The number of ballots did not include those confiscated by Spanish police, during violent raids, resulting in hundreds of people being injured, said Turull. At least 844 people and 33 police were reported to have been hurt, including at least two, who were thought to have been seriously injured.

According to Turull, 319 of the 2,315 polling stations set up for the referendum, were closed by the police.

Charles Puigdemont, Catalonia’s regional leader, spoke out against the violence: “On this day of hope and suffering, Catalonia’s citizens have earned the right to have an independent state, in the form of a republic

“My government, in the next few days, will send the results of [the] vote to the Catalan parliament, where the sovereignty of our people lies, so that it can act in accordance with the law of the referendum”.

Puigdemont went ahead with the referendum, despite opposition from the Spanish state, which declared the poll to be illegal. He told crowds earlier in the day that the “police brutality will shame the Spanish state for ever”.

The Spanish government defended its response after hundreds of people were hurt when riot police stormed polling stations in a last-minute effort to stop the vote on Sunday.

Although many Catalans managed to cast their ballots, others were forcibly stopped from voting as schools housing ballot boxes were raided by police, who were acting on the orders of the Catalan high court.

Mariano Rajoy, Spanish prime minister, said the government had done what it had had to do and thanked the police for acting with “firmness and serenity”, on Sunday night.

“Today there has not been a self-determination referendum in Catalonia. The rule of law remains in force with all its strength. We are the government of Spain and I am the head of the government of Spain and I accepted my responsibility.

“We have done what was required of us. We have acted, as I have said from the beginning, according to the law and only according to the law. And we have shown that our democratic state has the resources to defend itself from an attack as serious as the one that was perpetrated with this illegal referendum. Today, democracy has prevailed because we have obeyed the constitution.”

Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, the Spanish deputy prime minister, echoed that position, saying the police had shown firmness, professionalism and proportionality in the face of the “absolute irresponsibility” of the Catalan government.

She called on Puigdemont to drop the “farce” of the independence campaign, commenting that Spain had long since emerged from the authoritarian shadow of the Franco dictatorship.

“I don’t know what world Puigdemont lives in, but Spanish democracy does not work like this,” said Sáenz de Santamaría. “We have been free from a dictatorship for a long time and of a man who told us his word in the law.”

Sunday’s violence came less than 24 hours after the Spanish government had appeared confidence that enough had been done to thwart the vote.

On Sunday, police had sealed off 1,300 of the region’s 2,315 polling stations, while Guardia Civil officers, acting on a judge’s orders, had searched the headquarters of the Catalan technology and communications centre, disabling the software connecting polling stations and shutting down online voting applications.

“These last-minute operations have allowed us to very definitively break up any possibility of the Catalan government delivering what it promised: a binding, effective referendum with legal guarantees,” he said.