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This referendum was not the region's first.
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On October 1st Catalonia held a controversial referendum on independence. Before the vote took place, the Spanish Constitutional Courts ruled the vote illegal and sent the national guard to stop it from happening. Despite government opposition, the vote was held and clashes between voters and police ensued.
Ninety percent of the participants voted in favor of independence, but public surveys say that current support for independence in Catalonia is only 41 percent.
Despite the contested referendum results, Catalonia has declared independence unilaterally. In response, Spain is moving to dissolve the Catalan regional government, remove its leaders from office and hold regional elections.
You can read a full explainer on the situation via Sarah Wildman at our website: https://www.vox.com/world/2017/10/2/16393956/catalonia-catalan-independence-crackdown-vote-referendum
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