Catalonia expected to declare independence from Spain

The Catalan region is preparing to formally secede from Spain and create an independent state in a matter of days, regional leader Carles Puigdemont has said.

Days following the Sunday referendum produced a consensus among Catalans to break away from Spain, Puigdemont told BBC News Catalonia will “act at the end of this week or the beginning of next.”

“We are going to declare independence 48 hours after all the official results are counted,” Puigdemont said.

Puigdemont’s remarks followed a late appeal from King Felipe VI, who, in a televised address to the nation, delivered a blistering attack on the referendum and declared the regional government of “breaking democratic principles” and accused secessionists of trying to “break up Spain.”

Responding to Spain’s regent, Puigdemont said Felipe was “deliberately ignoring millions of Catalans.”

Ahead of the referendum, Madrid sent police into the region with the task of taking control of polling stations to prevent the vote.

An estimated 700,000 Catalan residents took to the streets to protest the police presence.  Clashes with police were frequent, with over 900 injured.  A general strike ensued throughout the entire region.

Of Catalonia’s 5.5 million registered voters, 2.26 million participated in the plebiscite.  An overwhelming 90 percent voted in favor of independence from Madrid.

Despite the vote, Spain’s 1978 constitution prohibits the breaking up of the country.

In lieu of the uncertainty, two major regional firms have already announced they will at least consider moving their respective headquarters from Catalonia. After the announcements, the biotech and bank company’s shares rose by 23 and six percent each by Thursday.

 

Editor’s note: This article has been updated.

 

[BBC News] [Catalan News] [AP] [Photo courtesy Reuters via RT]