A vast majority of people in Catalonia have voted for secession in the region’s referendum for independence amid oppositions from the Spanish government.
The two questions that eligible voters were to answer were: "Do you want Catalonia to become a state?" and "If so, do you want Catalonia to be an independent state?"
Over 10 percent of the voters said Yes to the statehood and No to its independence, and 4.55 percent voted neither for the statehood of the region nor for its independence.
“We want a definitive vote. Today we have become stronger as a country. We have taken a huge step forward,” Catalan First Minister Artur Mas said during a press conference before the results, adding, “We have made it very clear that Catalonia wants to govern itself. We want to decide our political future and we have demonstrated that.”Spain, on the other hand, dismissed the symbolic independence referendum as "fruitless and useless.”
"The government considers this to be a day of political propaganda organized by pro-independence forces and devoid of any kind of democratic validity," Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catala said in a statement in the Spanish government’s first reaction to the polls.
The regional government had earlier said that 5.4 million Catalans and resident foreigners aged 16 and over were eligible to take part in the non-binding referendum.
Spain's Constitutional Court on November 4 suspended the vote on independence in Catalonia.
The “Yes” in the non-binding vote will not automatically lead to the secession of the region, but only gives the Catalan president the mandate to negotiate independence with the Spanish administration.
Catalonia moved towards greater autonomy in 2006 when it formally adopted a charter that assigned it the status of a “nation”. However, the nationhood claim was overruled by Spain’s Constitutional Court in 2010.
Many Catalans believe their economy would be more prosperous on its own, complaining that a high portion of their taxes goes to the central government in Madrid.