EU Leaders Express Support to Madrid on Catalan Independence Referendum Issue

EU Leaders Express Support to Madrid on Catalan Independence Referendum Issue

EU Leaders Express Support to Madrid on Catalan Independence Referendum Issue

In Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and beyond, the question is the same: Now what?

An outspoken supporter of independence for the region, Pique voiced his fears over how the vote was handled by the Spanish government and said he might consider retiring from the national side if the violence continues.

Few see an easy way out.

However, while Catalan officials say nearly 90% of voters backed independence, turn out was relatively low at a reported 42%, potentially weakening Mr Puigdemont's position.

With its own regional parliament, Catalonia already enjoys significant powers over matters such as education, healthcare and welfare. Anti-independence protesters have also held rallies in Barcelona and other Spanish cities. That could include taking full administrative control of Catalonia.

Carles Puigdemont-the Catalan leader who was inaugurated as president after a reported 90 percent of voters expressed support for Catalonia's independence-announced on Monday that Catalonia will launch a special commission to investigate alarming actions by Spanish national police, which were documented and widely shared on social media throughout the weekend. Instead, it added, he would now have to apply the same measure - but only after events on Sunday had made "Rajoy's position weaker, while Puigdemont's is stronger". Rajoy had insisted he couldn't discuss a referendum unless the constitution was changed, and invited Catalonia to work on changing it. Officials said most of the injuries were not serious. Last week he had to pull plans to present his 2018 budget after allies in the Basque PNV party withheld their support as they criticized his stance on Catalonia.

The regional government, which had planned to open about 2,300 polling stations, said 319 had been sealed off by security forces, while the Spanish government said 92 stations had been closed across the region as of 1500 GMT.

Rajoy thanked officers and said the state "did what [it] had to do".

Rajoy has said he will address Parliament on the crisis. The risk, though, is that "in the longer term, the divisions in Spain become more entrenched".

The drive for Catalonian independence is the latest challenge to the European Union after several hard years marked by the Greek financial crisis, democratic backsliding in Poland and Hungary and Britain's vote to leave the bloc.

However, the European Commission described the crisis as "an internal matter" for Spain, that has to be dealt with in line with the constitutional order.

Several leaders of European Union countries have expressed their support for Madrid's stance amid Catalan independence referendum, which took place on Sunday.

Four people were hospitalised, two in serious condition - a 70-year-old man had a heart attack and another was hurt in his eye. "We have always said that we will use all the force of the law, all the mechanisms that the constitution and the laws grant the government", he said in an interview with public television.

Roughly 5.3 million people were eligible to vote, and most of the region's 948 municipalities agreed to provide voting facilities.

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