09/11/14 12:06 CET
| updated xx mn ago
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Voting is underway in Catalonia’s informal referendum on a breakaway from Spain.
Although it is non-binding, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to back independence, which would mark a victory for regional leader Artur Mas.
He organised the symbolic exercise after plans for a more formal – though equally non-binding ballot – were blocked by Spain’s Constitutional Court.
Madrid says the vote carries no weight; Catalan nationalists insist it can’t be ignored.
They hope strong support will prompt central government to negotiate more tax and political autonomy for the wealthy, northeastern region which has its own distinct language and culture or even convince Madrid to accept a full-blown independence referendum in the future.
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