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More Than 80% Of Catalans Wanted Independence In Non-Binding Vote

The vast majority of voters came out in favor of splitting from Spain in an informal, non-binding vote yesterday. Now Catalan leader Artur Mas is expected to put further pressure on Madrid for a binding referendum.

Posted on November 10, 2014, at 8:52 a.m. ET

A non-binding, symbolic referendum in Catalonia saw over 80% of voters in the region come out in favor of independence from Spain, according to officials.

A pro-Catalan independence flag (right), known as the "Estelada;" hangs from a balcony in central Barcelona on November 9.
Paul Hanna / Reuters

A pro-Catalan independence flag (right), known as the "Estelada;" hangs from a balcony in central Barcelona on November 9.

Four out of five of the 2 million Catalans who voted (an estimated 5.4 million were eligible to vote) said they wanted to break away from Madrid, which will put pressure on the Spanish government to announce a binding referendum.

People queue in a polling station to cast their ballot in a symbolic independence vote in Barcelona on Nov. 9.
Albert Gea / Reuters

People queue in a polling station to cast their ballot in a symbolic independence vote in Barcelona on Nov. 9.

Sunday's vote went ahead despite Spain's constitutional court ruling out a formal ballot.

People hold placards to form a giant Estelada, or Catalan separatist flag, in front of the Sant Feliu del Llobregat townhall, near Barcelona Feb. 16, 2014.
Albert Gea / Reuters

People hold placards to form a giant Estelada, or Catalan separatist flag, in front of the Sant Feliu del Llobregat townhall, near Barcelona Feb. 16, 2014.

Catalan leader Artur Mas said the vote was "a great success," and that the region had "earned the right" to a formal vote. He said it marked "a lesson in democracy, spelled out in capital letters."

Catalan President Artur Mas holds up his ballot before casting it during a symbolic independence vote in Barcelona, Nov. 9.
Paul Hanna / Reuters

Catalan President Artur Mas holds up his ballot before casting it during a symbolic independence vote in Barcelona, Nov. 9.

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Mas said: "Once again Catalonia has shown that it wants to rule itself."

"I ask the people in the world, I ask the media and I also ask the democratic governments in the world to help the Catalan people decide its political future," he added.

Mas said he would write a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, asking him to confront the "Catalan question" by giving the region a binding referendum.

A pro-Catalan independence flag, right, hangs from a balcony in central Barcelona on Nov. 9.
Paul Hanna / Reuters

A pro-Catalan independence flag, right, hangs from a balcony in central Barcelona on Nov. 9.

Catalans back independence in unofficial poll http://t.co/sPxJAxfUln #BBCGoFigure

BBC News (World)@BBCWorldFollow

Catalans back independence in unofficial poll http://t.co/sPxJAxfUln #BBCGoFigure

1:38 PM - 10 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

However, Spain's justice minister Rafael Catala dismissed the vote as "a sterile and useless sham" which would only exacerbate tensions between the region and Madrid.

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