Catalan independence 'will lead to nothing'

Catalan independence 'will lead to nothing'

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Catalonia's capital Barcelona to express their opposition to declaring independence from Spain, showing how divided the region is on the issue.

Catalonia's separatist leaders have threatened to declare independence after pressing ahead with a banned referendum on secession which they say they won.

Any declaration of independence by Catalonia will have no effect, Spanish Prime Minister Marian Rajoy has warned, adding that he is not ruling out suspending the region's autonomy.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont is expected to address the regional parliament on Tuesday at 18:00 local time (16:00 GMT) after Spain's Constitutional Court earlier suspended the Catalan parliament session that had been planned for Monday.

The country has been in a state of political upheaval since the northeast region held an independence referendum on October 1 - despite a constitutional court banning the vote and the Spanish government dispatching thousands of national police officers to prevent ballots from being cast.

"There has been an incredible amount of tension which has been building up since Sunday's referendum and people here are feeling that dialogue is sorely missed from all of this", said Al Jazeera's Sonia Gallego, reporting from the rally in Barcelona.

Despite Madrid's efforts, Catalan authorities announced that over 90 percent of Catalans voted for independence from Spain. Those in favor of a unified Spain have also dismissed the referendum's results, noting that only 43% of the region's 5.3 million eligible voters participated.

Unrest in Spain has prompted calls from the European Commission for Catalan and Spanish leaders to find a political solution, with the political stand-off dividing the country. We believe that we know what the Spanish people are thinking.

When asked what other countries could follow Catalonia's example, Dr. Steinnes mentioned Scotland which had a similar referendum in 2014, the Basque Country, Flanders in Belgium, Northern Ireland which could potentially break away, but said that none of them was likely to do so in the foreseeable future.

"We like how things have been up until now and want to go on like this".

Pressed on whether she would back the Catalan leaders, she said: "We'd recognise the decisions and the statements that were made, but I'm not going to speculate here on what will happen in Catalonia before it happens".

"We feel both Catalan and Spanish", Araceli Ponze, 72, said at the demonstration.

The same activist said that any talk of the operation via mobile phone was done in coded language, such as "tomorrow you will receive 10 cakes for your mother" or "you have to hand out five cakes to your mother and five to your father".

The warnings sent by the business sector have coincided with the first calls from within Sr Puigdemont's government to hold off on a declaration of independence.

The Spanish government sent thousands of national police to the region to prevent the vote.

Protesters jeered members of Catalonia's regional police force, the Mossos d'Esquadra, which had largely ignored a court order to close polling stations and seize ballot boxes during the referendum.

The political stand-off has pushed banks and companies to move their headquarters outside Catalonia.

Concern is growing in European Union capitals about the impact of the crisis on the Spanish economy, the fourth largest in the euro zone, and on possible spillovers to other economies. Also injured, and 33 police officers.

Alex Ramos, the vice-president of Societat Civil Catalana, the pro-unity group that called the rally under the slogan "Let's recover our common sense", said that Sunday had been an long overdue expression of the feelings of the majority of Catalan society.

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