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Catalans Vote For Independence In Symbolic Referendum

More than 1.5 million residents of Catalonia have voted to break away from Spain in a symbolic referendum that supporters of independence hoped would further their cause.

The wealthy northeastern region held the vote on November 9 despite opposition in Madrid.

Some 2 million voters cast ballots, with about 1.6 million supporting independence.

However, with 5.4 million eligible to vote, turnout was low.

Despite that, regional leader Artur Mas said he considered the vote itself a victory.

Spain's constitutional court had suspended the referendum after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy filed an appeal to contest the vote, which he had argued was illegal.

Catalan leaders pressed ahead anyway, holding the unofficial vote through grassroots organizations.

It followed two years of escalating tension and came two months after Scotland voted not to split from the United Kingdom.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP