Referendum fever spreads as Barcelona holds Catalan secession poll

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THE referendum fever on Catalan independence from Spain has spread to Barcelona, where poll organisers intend to hold a ballot on secession in the new year.

The move comes ahead of the holding of independence referendums at 161 villages and towns across Catalonia this weekend.

About 700.000 people will be eligible to cast a symbolic, non-binding vote, including non-EU citizens. Barcelona will be the last Catalan municipality to hold a referendum.

Unlike the city of Girona, where the council passed a motion to give the go-ahead to a poll, politicians in Barcelona have been reticent to give official backing to the vote in the capital.

Municipalities have defied a ban on holding independence referendums by allowing privately-run associations to organise the polls.

Many Catalans would reject outright independence from Spain, but a pro-independence victory in polls is expected in several villages and small towns.

Many Catalans remain disgruntled at the vast disparity between the amount of local finance which goes to Spain and the amount which is returned to Catalonia from state coffers, in areas such as infrastructure.

Poll organisers have gone ahead with a decision to hold a Catalan independence referendum in Barcelona, without a motion of approval from the city council.

The launch of independence referendums across Catalonia, has spread rampantly since the first secession vote of 13 September, when independence won almost outright support. Turnout reached over 40 per cent, higher than recent European elections.