Catalan leader says region has 'won right to statehood' after blood-stained referendum

Catalan leader says region has 'won statehood right' in referendum marked by violence

The independence vote in the region of Spain was marked by violence

Monday, October 2, 2017

The leader of Catalonia has said the region has won its right to statehood after yesterday's referendum returned an overwhelming 'yes' vote. 

Catalan officials said 90% of the people who voted backed independence, in a total turnout of 42%.

The authorities said an estimated 2.2 million people had voted out of a possible 5.3 million, while Catalan media claimed around 800,000 people were prevented from voting due to repression by Spain's Guardia Civil.

Based on this turnout, Carles Puigdemont insisted the region had issued a declaration of independence.

The vote had long been an issue of contention in Spain, for the government in Madrid said the vote was illegal and unconstitutional. 

As people turned out to vote, the Guardia Civil were sent in to prevent them from voting, seizing ballot boxes and even using force in some cases.

Local media showed officers kicking would-be voters and dragging women out of polling stations by their hair.  

Reports now suggest that 893 people were injured in the clashes, which went viral on social media as onlookers uploaded pictures and video footage. 

The result has been met with condemnation by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who said the people had been duped into taking part in an illegal vote.