About 1.6 million people in Spain's northeastern region of Catalonia voted Sunday in favor of breaking away from the country in a mock independence poll — but more stayed away either because of the poll's questionable legality or their opposition to secession. Results released early Monday with 88 percent of votes counted showed that about 80 percent of voters favored forming a new nation. But only two million voted out of an eligible 5.4 million, meaning many did not bother to participate amid worries about the vote's nonbinding status.
Plans for official referendum were suspended by Spain's Constitutional Court amid the central government's challenge that the referendum was unconstitutional. The court then suspended the mock vote on the same grounds Tuesday. The regional government defied the suspension, manning polling stations with 40,000 volunteers. “Despite the enormous impediments, we have been able to get out the ballot boxes and vote," Catalan president Artur Mas said after depositing his ballot at a school in Barcelona. Recent polls suggest the majority of Catalonia's 7.5 million inhabitants want an official vote on independence, while around half support cutting centuries-old ties with Spain.
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