Spanish king slams Catalan independence movement as protests escalate

Barcelona’s coach Ernesto Valverde

Meanwhile, Spain's King Felipe VI said organisers of the vote put themselves "outside the law".

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont lashed out Sunday at the violence used by Spain's national police in dispersing people in Barcelona who wanted to vote. He called for re-enforcements to be sent to Catalonia.

The Catalan government says the vote in support of independence was almost 90 percent, but official results have not yet been released. But a consensus on the vote, even among Catalans, was by no means assured, despite Puigdemont's stated determination.

The king charged: "They have meant to fracture Spain". Puigdemont is seeking worldwide mediation following the vote, saying he wants to reach an understanding with the Spanish government, and avoid a "traumatic break". Spain's monarch doesn't traditionally get involved in daily politics and typically only addresses the nation around Christmas.

The Spanish government is refusing to negotiate, while Catalonia's president previously said he was willing to go to prison over the referendum.

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During his interview with BBC, Puigdemont was asked why he was willing to shred the Spanish constitution to achieve independence.

Hungarian Finance Minister Peter Szijjarto told CNBC the European Union had shown some "double-standards" over the issue but, like many other leaders, did not want to be seen commenting on a domestic situation. They have beaten people who were holding their hands up. "I have to represent all of Catalonia's citizens", he said.

The king's comments follow protests that broke out Tuesday across Catalonia, a region in the country that includes Barcelona, over the crackdown by Spanish police during the vote over the weekend.

Officers from the national police and paramilitary Civil Guard seized ballot papers and boxes at a number of polling stations.

"The streets will always be ours", protesters chanted. "I was not expecting this".

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Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, a conservative who has taken a hard line on Catalan independence faces a huge challenge to see off the issue without further unrest and potential damage to his minority government. According to the Catalan government 90% of participants voted for the region to become independent. More than 2 million people voted yes, while fewer than 177,000 voted no, the regional government said.

As Catalans observed their general strike, all schools and universities were shut on Tuesday, small businesses were closed and transport companies ran reduced services so as to "vigorously condemn" the police response to the poll.

Mr. Puigdemont has said he will now present the results to the region's Parliament, where separatist lawmakers hold a majority, and which has the power to adopt a motion of independence.

European Union: According to The Washington Post, the European Union saw the independence referendum as a violation of Spanish law, and anxious about how the move would affect relations between Spain and Catalonia.

"If somebody tries to declare the independence of part of the territory - something that can not be done - we will have to do everything possible to apply the law", Catalá said on national television Monday.

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"We were really taken aback by the welcome we received as Scots", she said. "They have created a climate of tension in which anyone who doesn't agree with them doesn't exist and is discredited".

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