Catalonia referendum: Thousands attend pro-unity rallies in Madrid
Tens of thousands of Spaniards have taken to the streets in Madrid in a pro-unity rally against the disputed referendum for Catalan independence that took place on October 1. The Spanish government has apologized for the police crackdown to stop the referendum that left 900 people injured. Meanwhile, the ongoing political uncertainty has pushed many businesses to announce their departure from the Catalan region.
On October 1, around 900 people were injured when police forcibly tried to enforce a court-ordered ban on the referendum. Another 33 police officers were hurt as they attempted to disperse voters to seize ballot boxes. According to figures released by Catalan authorities, out of 2.3 million people who voted in the referendum, 90% backed independence. Voter turnout stood at 43%.
Enric Millo, the Spanish government's representative in Catalonia apologized to those hurt in the police crackdown. He said he couldn't help but "regret it and apologize on behalf of the officers that intervened." However, he blamed the Catalan government for organizing an illegal referendum. The Spanish government's official spokesperson, Iñigo Méndez de Vigo, also apologized for the police violence.
Spain's Constitutional Court suspended the Catalan parliament session which was due to take place on October 2. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont is expected to declare independence unilaterally at the Catalan Parliament's next sitting on October 10. Meanwhile, there have been multiple claims of referendum irregularities.