An ‘informal’ referendum on secession of Catalonia from Spain saw about 30 percent of the eligible voters turn up and vote in Madrid on Sunday. Organizers had hoped for a turnout around 40 percent, but said that that they were happy to see support for their campaign. Voters from 170 towns and villages were eligible to vote in the referendum to decide whether Catalonia should be made another independent state. 

The organizers of the campaign include a coalition of Catalan nationalists from the Convergencia i Unio and left wing parties. Supporters of the campaign say that they have made a valiant effort in gaining support from voters and mobilizing them with very few resources as compared to the officially held elections.

The aim of this referendum is to bring the big political parties in Catalonia under pressure to go for a real referendum in the future which would enable the secession of Catalonia. Catalonia has a seven million strong population and is already autonomous to a considerable extent. Early results depict that almost 95 percent of the voters voted in the favor of secession.

The Spanish government dismissed the result as ‘futile’ but that has not deterred the organizers from hoping to organize a similar referendum next year in Barcelona on a much bigger scale.

Elections in Catalonia are due by the end of next year and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero could face serious problems if the separatist movement surges at this time of economic recession.