MADRID—Spain’s autonomous Basque Country made a step closer to an independence referendum on Sunday after tens of thousands backed secession in a regional poll, organizers said.
The vote was initiated by Gure Esku Dago (It’s in our hands) group, the organizers told RIA Novosti. Around 37,000 voted in the poll that was conducted in 34 municipalities. The region’s total population is over 2 million.
Slightly over 95 percent of those sampled said “yes” to whether they wanted to be citizens of a sovereign/ independent Basque Country.
The group’s leaders, Angel Oiarbide and Zelai Nikolás, praised the vote as “historic,” saying it was “the first step to a referendum.”
“We are on the way toward a referendum. And we will continue working in this direction. Today is a historic day,” the organization said in a statement.
The Basque Country has followed in the footsteps of Catalonia, a well-off Spanish region which has held dozens of local votes on whether it should leave Spain in the past years. Madrid has called all of them unconstitutional.