1st October: Catalonia has ‘won right to statehood’


The Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, says that Catalonia has won the right to statehood following a contentious referendum that was marred by the violence that Spanish police applied against peaceful citizens. He said the door was open to a unilateral declaration of independence after Catalan officials said voters had backed independence.

Spain’s government has warned it could suspend Catalan autonomy. The constitutional court banned the vote and almost 900 people were hurt as police tried to stop it going ahead. Officers from the national police and paramilitary Civil Guard seized ballot papers and boxes at polling stations. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Catalans had been fooled into taking part in an illegal vote.

More than 2.2 million people were reported to have voted, according to Catalan authorities, out of 5.3 million registered voters. Just under 90% of those who voted backed independence, they said. A Catalan spokesman said more than 750,000 votes could not be counted because polling stations were closed and urns were confiscated.

How bad was the violence?

TV images showed Spanish police kicking would-be voters and pulling women out of polling stations by their hair. Catalan medical officials said 844 people had been hurt in clashes, including 33 police. The majority had minor injuries or had suffered from anxiety attacks.

In Girona, riot police smashed their way into a polling station where Mr Puigdemont was due to vote, and forcibly removed those inside. He voted at another station.

The BBC’s correspondent in Barcelona, Tom Burridge, witnessed police being chased away from one polling booth after they had raided it. TV footage showed riot police using batons to beat a group of firefighters who were protecting crowds in Girona.

(Source: BBC)