Subscribe to Breaking News emails

You have successfully subscribed to the Breaking News email.

Subscribe today to be the first to to know about breaking news and special reports.

Catalonia Votes in Symbolic Poll for Independence From Spain

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

BARCELONA - Hundreds of thousands of Catalans are expected to back independence from Spain on Sunday in a symbolic referendum on secession that they hope will propel the issue further despite opposition from Madrid. The "consultation of citizens" in the wealthy northeastern region follows a legal block by the central government against a more formal, albeit still non-binding ballot which regional leaders had been pushing for.

"If they don't understand us, they should respect us and each of us go on their separate way," said Angels Costa, a 52-year-old shopkeeper as she stood waiting in a short line to vote in Barcelona. "We would have liked to have been a federal state but that is no longer possible. They've trampled on us too much."

Pro-independence organizations have campaigned vigorously for a big turnout from the wealthy region's 7.5 million people, and more than 40,000 volunteers were helping set up informal voting stations on Sunday. Pro-secession politicians hope a high level of support will prompt central government to sit down with them and negotiate more tax and political autonomy, or even convince Madrid to accept a full-blown independence referendum in the future.

Image: People queue outside a polling station in Barcelona
People queue outside a polling station in Barcelona on Sunday.JOSEP LAGO / AFP - Getty Images

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
MORE FROM news