Catalan leader calls symbolic independence vote 'total success'
The head of the Catalan regional government, Artur Mas, called a symbolic independence referendum held Sunday in the region in which over two million people voted a "total success".
"Catalonia has once again, the people of Catalonia, has made it very clear that we want to govern ourselves.
It is an old aspiration, which dates back centuries and remains perfectly alive," he added in Barcelona after polls closed.
"No one should forget, especially the Spanish government, that Catalonia has once against demonstrated that it wants to govern itself and we are sufficiently big and adult to do so," he said.
"I regret that the first reactions from Madrid have once again been of much political myopia and much indifference, even intolerance.
And it bothers me because they had a golden opportunity to understand the message of Catalan will and signal that they want to resolve these challenges though mutual accord.
"Mas was speaking shortly after Spain's Justice Minister Rafael Catala dismissed the vote, which was staged by volunteers despite having been suspended by Spain's Constitutional Court, as "fruitless and useless".
"The government considers this to be a day of political propaganda organised by pro-independence forces and devoid of any kind of democratic validity," he added in a statement.
Proud of their distinct Catalan language and culture, many of Catalonia's 7.
5 million inhabitants feel short-changed by the national government in Madrid, which redistributes their taxes.
Catalonia formally adopted the status of a "nation" in 2006 but Spain's Constitutional Court later overruled that claim.
At the height of Spain's economic crisis in 2012, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy rejected Mas's demand to give Catalonia more power to tax and spend.
© 2014 AFP