Spain's king says Catalan leaders broke the laws of the state

Gerard Pique: Barcelona man prepared to quit Spain duty amid independence debate

Tuesday's protest follows a call by Catalan trade unions for a general strike in Spain's northeastern region to condemn police violence, which left nearly 900 injured, during Sunday's unauthorised vote.

Acting as the protector of Spain's constitution, King Felipe VI said the vote "could have put at risk the economy of Catalonia and even of Spain". The Catalan government said that around 2.26 million of the region's 5.34 million voters were able to cast their vote on Sunday.

The vote on Sunday saw riot police move in on polling stations in Barcelona and other towns and cities in the Catalan region to stop people from voting, in some cases baton-charging and firing rubber bullets to disperse crowds.

On Tuesday, huge crowds held street protests and unions staged a strike in Catalonia to protest against the alleged police brutality.

Pique, part of Spain's World Cup-winning squad in 2010, also added that he would retire from global football if his stance on the matter was regarded a problem.

Puigdemont warned that if the Spanish government attempted to intervene and take control of Catalonia's government, it would be "an error which changes everything".

Going down the independence route won't be easy for Catalonia.

In a fiery speech on Tuesday evening, Spain's King Felipe accused the Catalan authorities of "scorning" Spanish unity and threatening the stability of the whole country.

"I go to play with the (Spanish) national team because I believe in democracy and there are a lot of people in Spain who don't agree with what has happened today", Pique told Spanish TV.

The EU executive called again on Wednesday for the Spanish government and Catalan authorities to open a dialogue.

"It's the biggest day of gratuitous violence that we've experienced in the past 40 years", Puigdemont said, referring to the four decades of democratic rule in Spain.

Per the Guardian's translation, the king said the Catalan government had "eroded the harmony and co-existent within Catalan society itself, managing, unfortunately, to divide it".

Catalonia's leaders appear intent on declaring independence from Spain in the coming days.

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