Catalonia will hold October referendum on independence from SpainStaff Writer |
Spain Carles Puigdemont:
The leader of Spain's Catalonia region, where a separatist movement is in full swing, on Friday announced an independence referendum for October 1st, in what will exacerbate tensions with Madrid.
Catalonia, a wealthy, 7.5-million-strong region with its own language and customs, has long demanded greater autonomy, The Local reported.
Separatist politicians in the northeastern region have tried for years to win approval from Spain's central government for a vote like Scotland's 2014 referendum on independence from Britain, which resulted in a "no" vote.
And while Catalans are divided on the issue, with 48.5 percent against independence and 44.3 percent in favour according to the latest poll by the regional government, close to three-quarters support holding a referendum.
But Catalan authorities have repeatedly been thwarted in their attempts to hold such a vote, arguing it goes against the constitution and would threaten the unity of Spain.
In 2014, Catalonia held a non-binding vote under then president Artur Mas, in which more than 80 percent of those who cast a ballot chose independence, although just 2.3 million out of 6.3 million eligible voters took part.
But in holding the symbolic referendum, Mas went against Spain's Constitutional Court, which had outlawed the vote - even if it was non-binding. ■
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