The referendum, declared unlawful by Spain’s central authorities, has thrown the nation into its worst constitutional disaster in many years and deepened a centuries-old rift between Madrid and Barcelona.
Regardless of the police motion, hundreds-strong queues of individuals fashioned in cities and villages all through the area to forged their votes. At one Barcelona polling station, aged individuals and people with youngsters entered first.
“I am so happy as a result of regardless of all of the hurdles they’ve put up, I’ve managed to vote,” mentioned Teresa, a 72-year-old pensioner in Barcelona who had stood in line for six hours.The poll could have no authorized standing because it has been blocked by Spain’s Constitutional Courtroom and Madrid for being at odds with the 1978 structure.
A minority of round 40 % of Catalans help independence, polls present, though a majority need to maintain a referendum on the difficulty. The area of seven.5 million individuals has an financial system bigger than that of Portugal.
Nevertheless a lot voting takes place, a “sure” result’s probably, given that the majority of those that help independence are anticipated to forged ballots whereas most of these towards it are usually not.
Organisers had requested voters to end up earlier than daybreak, hoping for big crowds to be the world’s first picture of voting day.
“It is a nice alternative. I’ve waited 80 years for this,” mentioned 92-year-old Ramon Jordana, a former taxi driver ready to vote in Sant Pere de Torello, a city within the foothills of the Pyrenees and a pro-independence bastion.
The Catalan authorities mentioned voters may print out poll papers at residence and lodge them at any polling station not closed down by police.
Elsewhere, individuals weren’t capable of entry the poll packing containers. In a city in Girona province the place Catalan chief Carles Puigdemont was as a result of vote, Civil Guard police smashed glass panels to open the door and seek for poll packing containers.
Puigdemont voted in a unique city within the province. He accused Spain of unjustified violence in stopping the vote and mentioned it created a dreadful picture of Spain.”The unjustified, disproportionate and irresponsible violence of the Spanish state at this time has not solely did not cease Catalans’ need to vote … however has helped to make clear all of the doubts we needed to resolve at this time,” he mentioned.
The Madrid authorities mentioned 11 cops had been injured within the clashes.
Nicola Sturgeon, the pro-independence chief of Scotland, which voted to stay a part of the UK in a 2014 referendum, mentioned she was involved by the photographs she was seeing from Catalonia.
“No matter views on independence, we must always all condemn the scenes being witnessed and name on Spain to vary course earlier than somebody is severely harm,” she mentioned on Twitter.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel tweeted: “Violence can by no means be the reply! We condemn all types of violence and reaffirm our name for political dialogue.”
Round 70 polling stations had been raided by police, Spanish Inside Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido mentioned.
The goal of the raids was to grab referendum materials and to not goal individuals eager to vote, one other senior authorities official mentioned.
Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria mentioned police had acted in a proportionate method.
“We now have been made to do one thing we did not need to do,” mentioned Enric Millo, the central authorities’s consultant in Catalonia, at a information convention.
A top-flight Spanish soccer match between Barcelona and Las Palmas on Sunday can be performed with none supporters within the stadium due to the unrest, the Catalan membership mentioned.
“FC Barcelona condemns the occasions which have taken place in lots of elements of Catalonia at this time with the intention to forestall its residents exercising their democratic proper to free expression,” an announcement on the membership’s web site mentioned shortly earlier than the sport was scheduled to kick off.
One analyst mentioned the scenes being performed out throughout Catalonia on Sunday would make it tougher for Madrid and Barcelona to discover a approach ahead.
“I believe it’s going to make the conflict extra intense and make it harder to discover a answer,” mentioned Antonio Barroso of Teneo Intelligence.
Puigdemont initially mentioned that if the “sure” vote gained, the Catalan authorities would declare independence inside 48 hours, however regional leaders have since acknowledged Madrid’s crackdown has undermined the vote.
Markets have reacted cautiously however calmly to the state of affairs up to now, although credit standing company S&P mentioned on Friday that protracted tensions in Catalonia may harm Spain’s financial outlook. The area accounts for a few fifth of the financial system.
(Extra reporting by Angus Berwick in Sant Pere de Torello, and Adrian Croft and Sonya Dowsett in Madrid; Writing by Sonya Dowsett and Pravin Char; Modifying by Janet Lawrence)
© Thomson Reuters 2017
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