The leader of Catalonia insisted on Monday that Sunday’s independence referendum, though marred by clashes and rejected by the Spanish government, had earned his region the right to a separate state and that he would press ahead to make the vote binding. Without specifying when, Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan leader, said he would submit the result for approval to the regional Parliament. That could lead to a unilateral declaration of independence and tip the country even deeper into crisis — already one of the worst since the start of Spain’s democracy in the 1970s. Shortly after midnight on Sunday, the Catalan government announced that 90 percent of almost 2.3 million voters had cast ballots in favor of independence. But a consensus on the vote, even among Catalans, was by no means assured, despite Mr. Puigdemont’s stated determination. The referendum’s tallies could not be independently verified; the voting registers used were based on a census whose validity is contested; and, most important, Spain’s constitutional court had ordered that the referendum be suspended.
Rafael Catalá, Spain’s justice minister, warned Monday morning that the central government in Madrid was prepared to use its emergency powers to prevent a unilateral declaration of independence. Under Spanish law, the government could suspend Mr. Puigdemont from office, and take full administrative control of Catalonia.
“If somebody tries to declare the independence of part of the territory — something that cannot be done — we will have to do everything possible to apply the law,” Mr. Catalá said on national television on Monday.