Encouraged by a higher turnout than he expected – over two million people out of an estimated total of 6.2 million – Catalan regional premier Artur Mas said on Sunday that the informal referendum on self-rule had “been a success.”
“Catalonia has proven that it wants to govern itself,” he added, after 80 percent of voters expressed their support for independence by answering yes to the two questions on the ballot: “Do you want Catalonia to be a state?” and then, if the response was positive, “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state?”
Mas, of the CiU nationalist bloc, is scheduled to appear on Tuesday to talk about his next moves, although his deputy has already announced an “international battle” to drum up support for a new, legally binding referendum.
Regional authorities feel that Sunday’s results give them enough leverage to pressure Madrid into letting them hold an official, legally binding, “definitive consultation” in the region.
Madrid’s reaction has been one of political short-sightedness, indifference and intolerance” Artur Mas
“Adult democratic states respect the right to decide, as was the case in Canada and Scotland,” said Mas, in reference to independence referendums held in Quebec and Scotland. “Catalonia has made a quantum leap in its quest to be able to decide its political future with full freedom and legal guarantees.”
“Madrid’s reaction has been one of political short-sightedness, indifference and intolerance,” added Mas. “They had a chance to get to understand the citizens of Catalonia and send out the message that they were willing to resolve this challenge by finding common ground.”
But despite the outward semblance of unity in this common goal, Mas is facing internal dissent over the way he handled Madrid’s opposition to the referendum. That is why he has also sent out a message to other pro-independence parties reminding them of the need to stay together.
“When we walk together, we make better, faster progress. We should all play our role without stepping on one another: institutions do what they are tasked to do, associations also do what they are tasked to do, and so do citizens.”