MADRID (AP) — The Catalonia region’s president is riding a wave of enthusiasm among independence seekers Monday, a day after a non-binding vote on secession from Spain showed strong though not overwhelming support for breaking away.
Artur Mas received an ovation from jubilant government workers as he returned to his party headquarters to analyze the results of the unofficial referendum.
“Catalonia wants to decide its own future,” regional government spokesman Francesc Homs said.
Unhappy at Spain’s refusal to give the wealthy region more autonomy and fiscal powers, Catalan politicians have been pushing for a referendum for months.
Catalonia’s secessionist moves follow Scotland’s recent independence vote that resulted in a No vote and kept it part of Britain.
Regional authorities said 2.3 million Catalans had voted, with 80 percent opting to break away. While no official turnout figures were given, it appeared that Sunday’s turnout was much lower than in recent elections.
Elsewhere, there was skepticism over the vote.
“It is totally undemocratic,” church cleaner Carmen Santos said in Madrid. “They haven’t asked all Spaniards.”
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had described the vote as “neither a referendum nor a consultation,” because it has no legal weight.
Mas opted for an unofficial consultation after parliament, where Rajoy’s Popular Party has a majority, rejected his call for a referendum and Spain’s judiciary concurred.
Speaking in London, British Prime Minister David Cameron said “we want Spain to stay united, to stay together.”
Cameron said that referendums “should be done through the proper constitutional and legal frameworks.”
British and Scottish authorities agreed beforehand on the framework and rules for Scotland’s September independence referendum, and both sides agreed to respect the result.
Associated Press correspondent Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.