According to the Catalan government, which announced the results early Monday, 90 percent of the ballots cast were for independence -- with 2,020,144 voting yes and 176,566 no.

Turnout was low -- just 42 percent. More than 2.2 million people were reported to have voted, according to Catalan authorities, out of 5.3 million registered voters. 

Many people in Catalonia who opposed independence said they would not vote in the referendum, which they denounced a sham.

Yet on Sunday night, just minutes after the first few thousand votes from a handful of towns were posted, the regional president and leading secessionist, Carles Puigdemont, appeared on stage to announce that Catalonia had won "the right to independence" and called on Europe to support its split from Spain.

But nothing about the vote was normal -- or orderly, transparent or peaceful. Images of police beating voters in stylish, cosmopolitan Barcelona fueled a widespread perception that Europe, in particular, and the West, in general faces more tensions and dislocation.

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