A pro-independence Catalan protester makes his point in Barcelona.
A pro-independence Catalan protester makes his point in Barcelona. Manu Fernandez

Spain gives Catalonia 'no choice'

THE Catalonian Vice-President says the Spanish government has given the region "no choice” but to declare independence.

Oriol Junqueras said his party, one of the two in the ruling separatist coalition that forms the Catalan government, was "going to work toward building a republic” because it had a "democratic mandate” following a referendum earlier this month.

Madrid declared that October 1 referendum illegal and sent in its centralised police force, the Guardia Civil, to stop people voting. Officers were seen firing rubber bullets at crowds and beating voters as they attempted to enter polling stations during the vote.

Nearly 900 people were injured and the final result showed 92 per cent backed independence based on a turnout of 43 per cent.

Mr Junqueras was speaking for the Republican Left party and not for the regional government as a whole.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont announced he would be delaying his declaration of independence - which was originally due to happen about a week after the referendum - to seek negotiations with Madrid.

In a defiant TV address after the polls closed, Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy said the population had been duped into taking part in an illegal vote.

Spain's Constitutional Court has declared the referendum "illegal” and the Spanish government is expected to impose direct rule on Catalonia - possibly today. - INM