European Parliament leaders urge compromise over Catalonia

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On Sunday, 2.26 million out of the 5.34 million registered voters managed to vote, with about 90 percent backing independence, according to Catalan government figures. Polls consistently show that while most of its 7.5 million residents favored a referendum, they are roughly evenly split on independence from Spain. "We want a new understanding with the Spanish state". This distinguishes Scotland, which held a referendum agreed with London in 2014, from Catalonia, where Spain's Constitutional Court has said the 1978 constitution forbids secession.

Protesters blocked roads, public transport slowed to a crawl and FC Barcelona refused to train on Tuesday as Catalonia observed a general strike over police violence at a banned weekend independence referendum.

But after Sunday's violence it was a delicate balancing act for a Spanish sovereign. Calls for mediation and a dialog are coming from a few politicians, but they do not have the upper hand. He has indicated that Catalonia could declare independence next week.

"He made no mention of dialogue, and that's worrying", said Victor Lavagnini, a sports journalist who joined protests at the gates of the National Police headquarters in downtown Barcelona.

"We'll probably do this when we have the votes in from overseas, at the end of this week or thereabouts, so we'll act at the end of this week or the beginning of next week", Carles Puigdemont told the BBC in his first interview since Sunday's referendum.

Meanwhile, the European Commission yesterday said it was time to resolve the escalating political crisis, while defending Madrid's right to use "proportionate" force to maintain law and order.

The Catalan Health Department said that almost 1,000 people sought medical help after the clashes.

About 80% of Catalonians voted to separate from Spain in a separate independence referendum in 2014, but that was non-binding.

The Catalan government's spokesman Jordi Turull said that regional authorities had "nearly finished counting the votes".

Edging into a minefield it has tried hard to avoid, despite a danger for stability in Spain and the euro zone, the European Commission issued a cautiously balanced statement.

The Spanish government is refusing to negotiate, while Catalonia's president previously said he was willing to go to prison over the referendum.

Two demonstrators, one wearing a Spanish flag and the other a Catalan independence flag, walk in Barcelona.

Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia's elected leader, has asked for European Union mediation in negotiations and said Catalonia has "won the right to an independent state".

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