Catalan government claims victory in contested referendum on independence from Spain

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The Catalan government claimed victory early Monday in a contested referendum on independence from Spain, after Spanish government forces cracked down at polling stations.

Preliminary results suggest 90% of counted ballots favored splitting from Spain, regional government spokesperson Jordi Turull said in a news conference shortly after midnight.

The results follow a day of violent clashes between Spanish national police and supporters of the disputed vote. Hundreds were injured as riot police raided polling stations and fired rubber bullets in a concerted attempt to deny the vote legitimacy.

Catalonia’s separatist government pushed forward with the vote despite Spain’s Constitutional Court outlawing declaring it illegal.

The vote risks plunging the country into one of its worst political crises since the end of Gen. Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in 1975.

Catalonia has its own regional government, with considerable powers over healthcare, education and tax collection. But Catalonia has long complained that its revenues subsidize other parts of Spain. Catalan nationalists argue the region is a separate nation with its own history, culture and language, and that it should have increased fiscal independence.

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